Customer Success Story: ProEx Physical Therapy

Throughout the month of February we’re sharing all about the importance of patient retention at your clinic. We also love sharing the ways that our customers are using our products to help retain their patients and grow their business. Today we’re thrilled to bring you some of the ways that Ben Barron, Director of Business Development for Collectivity Billing and Director of Business Development for ProEx Physical Therapy, is using StriveHub Reach as an outreach and retention tool.

ProEx Physical Therapy will soon be celebrating its 15th anniversary, with 14 clinics across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Building strong relationships in the community has proved a catalyst for their company to experience a 20-30% growth rate every year since Ben has been with the company. Prior to partnering with Strive Labs in March 2015, they recognized the importance of the customer experience in creating loyal relationships, but they had difficulty collecting and measuring the data needed to gauge their success.

Using Data to Drive Processes

According to Ben, “We were doing this (building a loyal customer base) with very good results; but, the problem was that we had no data. We are a very data driven company. Patient satisfaction scores are fairly worthless - therapists across the board have a 96% approval rating - there’s a terrible selection bias in who clinicians hand the form to, and what the patient is going to reveal in a survey. And there’s no actionable data.”

“I’ve been here (at ProEx) for 7 years, so I’ve been here for 28 quarters and I’ve seen someone circle NO, that they wouldn’t recommend us, twice; and one time I’m convinced the patient read the responses incorrectly, based on tons of positive feedback that patient had given us.

We see 10,000 patients per year, so you’re telling me that out of 70,000 patients, only one has been dissatisfied? That means I have one piece of actionable data.

At some point you’re getting smoke blown at you with your satisfaction surveys. Prior to using StriveHub, everything we were doing was all on a gut feeling, there wasn’t a lot of data. We had systems in place for customer service training, but we didn’t have any way to monitor and give effective feedback to staff. Now, StriveHub helps us to look at a clinic that may not be experiencing the kind of growth we want and answer the question, ‘Do we have a market problem or a patient experience problem?’

If the answer is a patient experience problem, Ben is able to look deeper into the issue with data. “We’re able to analyze the data to use for staff reviews - sometimes the data looks one way, but when we analyze it we can really see what’s going on, and that helps us with mentoring staff and providing feedback in their yearly reviews.” (For more on utilizing StriveHub as a KPI for clinicians, see here).

Patient Retention

ProEx uses NPS® data to assess and address patients that are at risk of dropping out. “If we’re having dropouts in the first three visits, and it’s because the person is unhappy or not getting better, we need to address it. We send out the NPS® right after the Initial Evaluation and if we identify the patient as a detractor, the system comes to a halt.

“We use it as an opportunity to reflect on the patient’s case and see why they may have chosen that score. Then we can intervene as soon as we get that data, but in a thoughtful, non-confrontational way. We don’t want to be too reactionary - it’s about our system growing and our team learning…it's not about just that specific patient. It serves as a time of self-reflection for the therapist to ask themselves, ‘What else can we do to meet this person’s needs? What are their psychosocial needs?’ Pain is not just a biomedical issue.’”

At ProEx, Ben says, “We always call every patient the day after their Initial Evaluation. We don’t send continual communication to that person because we don’t want them to either feel like they have to justify the score or like they have to help us ‘fix’ our business - that’s also why we don’t talk to them explicitly about their NPS score on their second visit. We have trained our therapists to say, ‘I’ve been thinking about your case and I want to take five minutes to see how you think things are going.’ We give the patient the opportunity to talk, which shows we are thinking about the case and about their care. We want to continue to have that personal approach with every patient.”

Company Culture Drives the Patient Experience

“When we provide staff education on the patient experience, it helps our company culture. We have created a culture where people give each other feedback. It doesn’t matter if they’re your superior or not. People say ‘I heard what you said to Mrs. Jones, and I know why you said it, but can I give you some feedback on what her facial expression looked like when you said it? Or on what I think she might have heard?’”

We expect all team members to be on the customer service bus. It’s a discipline of treating people the right way.

Ben continued, “The NPS® is a tool - using the NPS® or StriveHub isn’t going to fix or change any business - it’s all about how you’re going to use the tool. What is the process on the backend that’s going to improve the business and the experience? There is a difference between a Detractor score that gets an explanation (taking responsibility) versus excuse making. We don’t allow excuse making, but sometimes things happen that explain why a patient might have had a bad experience. Our task is to dive into that data and tease it out.”

“I do know this," he continued, "Since we started using StriveHub our dropout rate has decreased, we are more mindful of the patient experience and the data it generates, and leaders in our organization ask me for the data more often than ever before, so there’s clearly a focus on patient experience throughout the organization.”

"The fact that there’s a focus on it and true buy-in from every single level of the organization is tremendously important and we have systems on the backend where we’re educating people on communication, the psychosocial elements of care, and reflecting on negative feedback to allow exponential growth from every encounter. As far as the check we write to Strive Labs every month - we never question the value.”

StriveHub for Reactivation

ProEx also uses StriveHub Reach for patient reactivation campaigns. According to Ben, "We periodically run reactivation campaigns as a thank you to our communities for helping us grow. We can automatically send out an email with pertinent content and an offer to previous patients. This can be as simple as saying, ‘If you want anything evaluated by a PT in the next month or want your HEP updated, click here.’ We brought in 10-20 patients for evaluations last year through those types of campaigns. We also do a birthday reactivation campaign - all previous patients receive a birthday email, with the saying ‘You see your PCP and dentist every year, see your PT too!’ The beauty is they're automated - they don’t take manpower.”

“By automating processes you ensure that every patient gets the NPS® - it doesn’t rely on anyone remembering to hand them a paper. Everyone gets it - not just the people you think are going to give you a good score. Birthdays and other events generate automatic emails. Anything you can automate is going to cost less to perform, therefore your ROI is going to be greater. That’s one of the huge advantages of the (StriveHub) platform. It takes time, effort and diligence to run the backend to get the value out of the tool, yet it’s so worth it to keep our patients engaged.”

“It’s the part of the Triple Aim that is often forgotten - the patient experience. Our business is set up with three areas of focus: clinical outcomes, patient experience and cost effective care (what was the cost to deliver an outcome)? Part of that is the patient experience. It’s a competitive edge for your business when you rely on word-of-mouth for referrals.”

Cost Effectiveness

As Ben pointed out, “Insurance looks at number of and cost of visits. You know what isn’t cost effective? Treating the wrong body part, such as someone's shoulder, when all along it was their neck. But it’s also not cost effective for a person to not get their needs met and bounce around to a few different therapists at a clinic or drop out of physical therapy due to a bad experience, and then continue to have symptoms for a few months then go somewhere else. Cost effective care includes being able to take care of the person in front of you efficiently, no matter who they are. Utilizing a platform like StriveHub allows us to measure how we’re doing in our effort to reach that goal.”

Strive Labs makes it easy for you to continually improve on the customer experience in order to create and maintain loyal customers. Huge thank you to Ben Barron for sharing his experience with us!

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Ann Wendel

Physical Therapist, Writer, Speaker, Consultant, Kettlebell Lover. Director of Brand Marketing for @strive_labs and @APTAtweets Media Spokesperson.