My 15-Minute Strategy to Win Reoccurring Patients 

Most patients coming to you out of pocket are one of two people… either they either failed treatment somewhere else (or lots of other places), or they want to be better YESTERDAY.

So how do we get them IN the door and KEEP them?

They have to trust us.

And how do we do this?

The number one thing we need to do in order to win over their trust is to show them that WE ARE WORTH THEIR TIME.

When patients have been to place after place and they’re not getting better, they are tired of wasting their time and their money.

Time IS money. So let me share the 15 minute strategy that I’ve developed to use with my patients in order to SHOW them that I am worth them coming in and paying out of pocket for.

The Dual Goal: Thriving Business and Exceptional Care

For me, this 15-minute strategy is about more than just filling my schedule or ensuring the financial health of my practice. It’s about skyrocketing business success and delivering better results for my patients.

Focus on these TWO THINGS is KEY. We’re in the business of care, and by prioritizing our patients’ immediate needs and demonstrating our ability to meet their needs, we’re not just building a practice but a community of trust, healing, and success.

Putting It Into Practice

Implementing this approach in your practice might seem daunting at first, but with practice and consistency, you’ll find you build your own “muscles” of genuine engagement and analysis with your patients, which will make you VERY effective in this process.

This approach leads to more engaged, committed, and loyal patients, which leads to incredibly successful outcomes. By establishing trust and demonstrating value from the very beginning, you’re laying the groundwork for a therapeutic relationship that can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

The 5 step Process to the 15-Minute Evaluation Strategy

So, how do we make this happen?

Making Every Minute Count

First things First: We must know: What does this patient truly need from us?  One of the ways I learn this is to ask, ‘If I can change one thing for you today, what would it be?’

This question does more than just kickstart our session; it shows the patient I’m here to address their most pressing concern, AND it gives me a target goal to work towards together. It’s about getting to the heart of WHAT drives them emotionally in life, and HOW we can make their life better through improving their physical capacities.

Now, when they answer you, Listen. Really listen — to what your patient is saying. After understanding their goals, you be able to dig deep with a series of other questions to help you understand their story.

From there, let your expertise and intuition guide you. Show them, through your questions, analysis, and initial insights, that you’re not just another therapist. You’re a dedicated professional ready to work tirelessly with them to meet their goals and improve their quality of life.


Get Deep with Questions

After understanding their purpose for coming to you in the first place, you must then dig deeper into their history to help unveil potential sources of the injury and/or breakdown.


Analyzing Past Treatments

The first question you’re going to ask them is, “What have you tried?”

Understanding their previous treatments is critical. Right off the bat, you should be thinking of what treatments you can bring to the table that they haven’t tried yet. You want to look for other things that will move the needle for them in terms of that goal.

Changes in Their Daily Schedule

Next, you’ll want to ask if there have been any changes in their daily life, schedule, or habits leading up to the injury. We’re now looking for a life event that could have possibly been a big contributor to the change in your patient’s awareness of pain, perception of pain, or actual tissue injury.

Investigating Surgical History

Investigating a patient’s surgical history is one of the most missed questions I see. As therapists, we get into this pattern of patients filling out the intake form, and what I’ve found is even if you have an intake form that asks for surgical history, patients won’t put everything on there. They’ll only put what they think is relevant, so you have to really tease this out because we know that all surgical procedures do matter.

Assessing the Role of Stress

There’s too much research now to deny the relationship between stress and trauma and not only how the body perceives pain but how the body amplifies a pain and injury response in the presence of stress.

I don’t always ask about their stress levels; it’s a delicate question that should be a judgment call. But this is another of the most highly missed opportunities for recognizing a precipitating factor to injury.

If you bring the idea of stress up to the patient, be compassionate; you don’t want to make them feel crazy. However, at the same time, if you really think stress is a big factor for them and they’re not ready to hear it, then maybe you don’t want to treat them anyway.

Be true to your process and present them with information you know will help them toward their goal. If they’re not willing to do the work or receive the information or do their part in the work, it doesn’t do you good to treat them. But when I’ve brought this up to patients and potential patients, and they needed and were ready to hear it, it was a game-changer.

A Quick Movement Analysis

My main point for a movement assessment is to show relationships our patients didn’t know existed but have an influence on their injury pattern. In this process, you’re going to analyze their movement in a way that reveals underlying causes and precipitating factors and allows you to make a greater change by addressing those first.  That’s essentially the recipe.

Remember, you only have 15 minutes, so you’ll want to be efficient in your process.


Knowing Your Wins

After your 15-minute session, you need to leave your patient with at least one of these things, and the more, the better.

  • Delta: I call making a change, Delta. Delta in their pain or movement. If you can identify or make a change within those 15 minutes, you’ve given them proof that, when given more time, you’ll absolutely be able to meet their goal with them.
  • You’ve Shown Them You’re Different: After asking them questions that no one else has asked them, and taking them through a movement evaluation that is likely different from what they’ve seen before, you’ve shown them you’re different. Their time with you is invaluable. They can’t afford NOT to come to you because you’ve shown them you’re going to get results.
  • Make Yourself Accessible: One of the major perks for patients working with you in a cash-based setting is that they have access to you outside of normal working hours. While the details of how you choose to make yourself accessible can and should vary for everyone, your patients will be able to justify paying you out of pocket more easily if they can reach out to you when they have questions. I can’t tell you how many patients are so relieved they can get answers by contacting us. Not only does this help us get patients better faster (by answering their questions right away), but also it builds and fosters loyalty and a trust between us that is priceless.

Embrace the 15-Minute Strategy

Now, it’s time to implement this strategy into your practice. If you feel ready to embrace this process, but aren’t sure about how to implement some of the details, join us for one of our Primal University online courses.

These courses teach you how to master movement analysis in a way that makes the 15-minute process instinctive and seamless.

About the Author
Dr. JJ Thomas, DPT, MPT, CMTPT
JJ Thomas is the owner and founder of Primal Physical Therapy and Primal University, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. She is an instructor for Evidence in Motion, and lectures and speaks nationally on the topics of Dry Needling, Functional Movement Analysis, and Functional Anatomy. She has been published in IJSPT for her contribution to a commentary on dry needling and consults as a content expert for organizations such as the APTA and FSBPT. In this role, she played a large part in the addition of a CPT code for dry needling through the AMA and was on the task force that helped identify competency standards for dry needling education nationally. JJ works with US Field Hockey teams, and individuals from US Lacrosse, US Polo, USA Track and Field, NFL, NBA, PLL, MLB, and more.
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