When I was a practicing PT, I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated about the patients who didn’t come back. We all have them—the patients in need of our help who don’t follow through after their initial screening.
We can solve their problems. But first, they need to decide they want our help.
After struggling as a PT through too many initial screenings that went nowhere, I developed a communication tool that guides patients to do exactly that. It’s an organic, patient-focused conversation that pulls together a prospective patient’s challenges, goals and desires, and the solution-based service you provide.
It’s the Pain-Pleasure-Solution Conversation.
It’s not a difficult conversation to have. But you need to understand each step for it to be successful.
Why is it so effective? The PPS Conversation does a bunch of really important things.
- It clarifies for patient and PT what the patient’s challenges are—not only physical but emotional.
- It establishes trust between patient and therapist
- Most important: It empowers your prospective patients to make the decision to proceed with the plan of care you’re offering.
When you use this approach in your initial screenings, you will commit more patients to plans of care that they’ll see through–because you put them in the driver’s seat. And working with more committed, empowered patients is more satisfying, rewarding—and profitable—for you.
Here’s how it works.
4 steps that turn prospects into new (and committed) PT patients
Step 1: Uncover their pain points
Your patient’s pain points are the challenges, fears, obstacles and limitations that are keeping them from reaching their goals. Too often, we move through a screening without getting a full picture of what our patient’s most urgent concerns and biggest priorities really are.
During the subjective part of a SOAP screen, ask the question: What is your biggest worry? Their answer can give you deeper insight not only their physical pain but also their fears–and their motivations for recovery and healing.
Step 2: Confirm what success looks like for them
Now, it’s time to understand the wants and desires they connect to their recovery. Done right, this can be a powerful step in helping patients clarify for themselves what their goals and desires really are. That can be incredibly motivating in helping them commit to a plan of care.
Our patients often need prompting to reach this information. Ask your patient to be specific about how they will measure success—and what success will feel like for them when they get there. Ask them to describe WHY this goal matters to them.
After you’ve heard them, REPEAT back what you understand their answer to be. This step of RESTATING ensures you and your prospective patient are on the same page. It’s also a powerful trust builder.
Step 3: Let them DECIDE to move forward
Too many PTs skip this step. After you’ve completed their objective tests, don’t jump right into solution mode. Before you move on to describing your plan of care, give your patient opportunity the to decide whether they want your help. After you’ve shared your assessment, ask your prospective patient: Is this something you’d like to get help with now?
Don’t phone this one in. Really ask, and you’ll get a real answer—one that empowers your patient to feel in charge of their journey back to health.
Step 4: NOW give them the solution
Here’s the time to share your program. Make an offer and be specific! Explain how your program addresses their pain and can help them reach their goals. Don’t shy away from the details. Be direct about number of visits, and cost. I strongly recommend offering an incentive to pay for the program up in total, up front. (You can offer a payment plan if they have hesitations about the up-front cost.) And explain to them how committing to the full program by scheduling all visits is the best way to ensure they’ll meet their goal.
After you’ve made offer, be quiet. Give them the time to think and respond. The PPS conversation turned more of my prospects into patients and it now does the same thing for the PTs in my programs.
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