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A Q&A with Jerry Durham, PT

Written by: Allie Shook on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Posted in:

Jerry Durham is a nationally recognized expert and speaker on physical therapy practice. He is also a therapist and practice owner who has worked in a variety of settings, from small independent clinics to large hospitals. Since the beginning of his career, he’s been dedicated to treating patients as individuals with unique concerns and objectives. He’s helped hundreds of physical therapists across the U.S. adapt successfully to a patient-driven model. He believes that a practice’s focus must be on the patient, and ultimately your patients will determine your clinic’s success.

To promote your patients’ positive experiences focus on their problems, build relationships, and add value to their lives. Begin by mapping patient experience touch-points and by tracking key metrics. From there, you’ll quickly identify areas where you can improve and capitalize on patient driven growth. In this post, Jerry provides insight to commonly asked questions he receives from therapists who are ready to adapt patient-driven models.

 Q. Should a therapy practice’s first-visit arrival rate take into account referrals from all sources, including referrals from doctors?

A. Yes, the first-visit arrival rate should be kept regardless of referral source. You want to measure all the calls coming into your clinic. You might have two doctors who give you referrals in the community, but other people are finding you in a variety of ways, such as word of mouth from previous patients, advertising, and outdoor signage. You want to track all these in a call log, because your first-visit arrival rate is calculated from all your calls, not just referrals. I’ll tell you a little secret: people who aren’t referred by a doctor will probably have a higher first-visit arrival rate than those who were referred by a doctor.

Q. How can the front office effectively convey the value of physical therapy before a patient has seen a therapist?

A. This is one of my favorite questions. Think about this: if your person answering the phone doesn’t know the value that you can deliver to you patients, your arrival rate is going to be pretty low. This is your unique value proposition: what is it you’re selling and to whom are you selling it? To get that information across, your staff needs to – from the first phone call – determine the caller’s goals and explain how physical therapy can help him or her achieve them. value lies in the “how.” If you wait for the PT provider to explain the “how” in the evaluation, your arrival rate is going to be low. You’re not selling “physical therapy.” If you do that, you’re going to lose.

Q. Do you map out each patient’s experience depending on what the “first touch” is?

A. No, instead of mapping out every patient’s experience individually, you should have systems in place for each type of first touch. For example, have a system for when it’s a call, a system for when it’s a fax referral, and a system when it’s a walk-in. If that sounds like a lot of work, remember they’re basically exactly alike. It’s the same conversation, the same script, you still get their insurance information, and you still promise them a callback.


About Jerry Durham: Jerry Durham helps physical therapy practice owners engage patients for great results. Following graduation from physical therapy school, Jerry practiced in a variety of settings, inpatient and outpatient, from small independent clinics to large hospitals. From the very beginning, Jerry questioned why there wasn’t an emphasis placed on treating patients as individuals, with unique concerns and objectives and why more effort wasn’t being made to develop true relationships with patients.

Jerry’s experiences in these settings fueled his drive to prove that you can increase arrivals, decrease no-show and cancellations, and achieve great results with both your patients and your business. All of these results can be driven through the relationship between your clinic and your patients. Learn more at

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