Spreading #GetPT1st Through Effective Communication

I, like most physical therapists, love the #GetPT1st movement. I fundamentally believe that a world where PT is the entry point for musculoskeletal disease is a world with more efficient care, fewer frivolous costs, and (most importantly) happier, healthier people.

I believe in this concept so deeply and strongly that I started a company with the grand vision to change the treatment & triage of musculoskeletal disease.

When you are in the early stages of growth, whether it be a company or a movement (like #GetPT1st), your greatest currency is your story. If you can find a way to get your core idea to resonate with your target audience, you can win quickly and efficiently.

If there’s one lesson that I’ve learned from building Strive Labs, it’s that communicating an idea effectively is deceptively difficult.

First off, it’s a real struggle to convince important people to willingly sit down and listen to what you’ve got to say (attempting to engage an unwilling audience is nearly impossible and not recommended). Once you do get the opportunity to speak, you only have a few minutes (if you’re lucky) to get them to listen, ensure that they understand, convince them to care, and influence them to take action.

To put it more bluntly: most people that you meet on the street don’t give a shit about your most deeply held passion.

It’s up to you to get them to care, and here are 3 recommendations to help you get started:

1. Find the 1% (Engage the Willing)

I’ve actually talked about this in length in a different post. If you don’t want to read the post, here are the CliffsNotes:

There is a very small contingent of people that have a problem that we solve, and are much more willing to #GetPT1st than the average person. These people are what we call PT early adopters. The most effective thing that we can do is reach these people, and continue to reach them, until we have a critical mass of adopters.

Once you reach this critical mass, the average person on the street has now heard enough positive testimony that they are willing to give it a shot. This is the tipping point; the time when a concept enters the mainstream and spreads like wildfire (for real… it’s science! If you don’t believe me, read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point).

Our early adopters are people who have:

• Already gotten physical therapy (preferably at your clinic)

• Have gotten better because of your service

• Are highly satisfied with their experience

These are our evangelists, our way to enter the mainstream. We need to engage these people in our #GetPT1st efforts, as they already love us and are more than willing to utilize direct access the next time they are in need.

2. Speak Their Language

During the infancy of Strive Labs, I was tasked with getting our first 10 customers.

It was not going well.

I had a PowerPoint presentation packed with data from a successful pilot we ran. My big statistic: we were achieving over 50% patient engagement.

Here’s how my first handful of sales calls went: I’d get through my demo, prospects would feign interest, and I’d never hear from them again.

After a ton of failed demos, I brought our founding team through the presentation to get their input. When I hit my big reveal (50% engagement!), our CTO Jeff Tingle stopped me and asked a question that he’s very prone to asking:

“Wait… who cares?”

I explained that in a world where patient portals struggle to get 5% of their patients to log in, 50% engagement is a shining achievement.

He stopped me again:

“No Ryan. I’m asking you… why should the customer care?”

That was a light bulb moment for me. I went out and talked with customers, leads, and a few prospective customers who said no. From that, I re-learned that clinics were looking to get new patients in the door, and make sure they didn’t fall through the cracks once they came in. Our platform actually helps with both of these problems, but I was too entrenched in the data that I thought was important to be able to zoom out and address the bigger picture (what they thought was important).

In my next sales demo, I ditched the old presentation. When the prospective customer told me that he was having a patient retention problem, I responded, "We can help with that... let me show you how."

I made a sale that day.

Why should you care about this story?

We know that early access to physical therapy saves thousands of dollars in the average course of care for LBP. We know PT decreases the need for injections by X%, and reduces the need for costly MRIs by another X%.

These are awesome statistics that we should be highlighting to every insurance company in the world, but they’re not the most essential building blocks when speaking to potential customers.

Instead, they are supporting data points that back up the bigger story.

And the bigger story is this: All that our prospective patients want is to feel better, faster.

It’s all-but-guaranteed that the average person has, or knows someone who has:

  1. Ping ponged from their PCP to a specialist, over to diagnostic imaging, back to the specialist for injections and meds (et cetera) only to see little improvement.
  2. Gotten a painful surgery that didn’t solve (or even decrease) their original pain.

Physical therapy provides a solution to both of these scenarios. If we frame our conversations appropriately, highlight the current problem through the patient’s eyes, and use the data that we have to back up those conversations, we can get people to start buying into what we're saying.

3. Use Stories & Analogies

An analogy or story makes the vague more concrete. They help people manage complex ideas and tend to make a more lasting impression than stating facts or figures… use them to your advantage!

While I don’t pretend to be a master of analogies, I tried to practice what I preach the other day when posting to #GetPT1st:

One of the most compelling stories we can tell the public is about physical therapy’s efficacy relative to painful and costly surgery.

My plan was to get this idea across in an easily digestible way, while providing additional context (a link to a study) to back up my claim in case people wanted to learn more.

While this isn’t a groundbreaking concept, the most effective communication is clear, concise, and relatable. If #GetPT1st is going to resonate with our audience-- if we are seeking to educate and inform in a way that encourages people to seek out PT-- it has got to be outside of glib one liners and feel-good sentiments. We need to tell our story in a meaningful way that moves people towards action.

Ryan Klepps



Physical Therapist, Membership Chair of APTA of MA, COO & Co-Founder of Strive Labs, Inc.

Somerville, MA http://strivehub.com