Many consumers are not aware that a physical therapist can help them regain strength, become active again after years of living a sedentary lifestyle or avoid costly surgery. To combat low consumer awareness, the American Physical Therapy Association has stepped up their efforts to promote the many benefits of physical therapy provides. A number of physical therapists have followed their lead by utilizing new communication tools to educate consumers.
Sure, you’re used to educating patients during office visits and providing patients with handouts that clearly explain exercises and treatment procedures. But you may not have considered or have been afraid to try some of the new communication tools available to you to enhance your consumer education efforts. Here are a few creative approaches you can use to promote the benefits of physical therapy:
- Website. A website is an essential therapy communication tool for any physical therapy clinic. It’s a great way to offer information about your staff, clinic hours and highlight your specific physical therapy niche. Websites are also an ideal way to educate the general public about the benefits of physical therapy. You can post relevant articles on ways to avoid injury, provide informative fact sheets and offer advice on how to make the most of their physical therapy appointments. If you don’t have time to write your own articles, consider linking your website to relevant information on other websites.
- Blog. A blog is another way to help educate the public about the benefits of physical therapy. Unlike websites, blogs are easy to set-up and post information to. They are the ideal medium for showcasing your clinic’s unique personality. Blogs are a great way to provide answers to some of the questions that come up during office visits. Share tips to help individuals avoid common injuries. Or simply offer suggestions on ways individuals can live a healthier lifestyle.
- Radio Show or Podcasts. In practicing physical therapy, most therapists never dream of being on the radio, let alone hosting their own weekly radio show. Karen Litzy, PT, and host of a weekly internet radio show is no exception. A few years ago, she would have never imagined having her own show. But after being a guest on a friend’s radio show, she found that she enjoyed being on the “air.” She decided to give her own show a try. Her internet radio show, Healthy, Wealthy & Smart, features a different healthcare expert each week and covers a variety of health care issues. A weekly radio show or podcast is a great way to educate consumers on the go since they can download and listen on their way to work or while working out.
- Videos. Getting patients to do exercises correctly is one of the challenges most physical therapist face. A patient handout with illustrations or pictures showing exercises is better than just a verbal explanation, but a video is even better. It used to be too costly to provide patients with a video showing them proper exercise techniques. Thanks to technology and the internet, videos can be shot and uploaded to sites like YouTube for consumers to view instantly. Providing consumers with a visual of the proper way to complete an exercise is one of the best ways to improve patient compliance. Once a video is created you can show it to patients while they are at your clinic and encourage them to access the video while at home. If you don’t have time to shoot your own video, research videos currently available online and link to those from your website.
- Social Media. Social media provides you with a unique opportunity to communicate direct with your patients. Encourage patients to follow your clinic on Facebook or Twitter and use these mediums to offer quick tips to help consumers avoid injury, learn ways to get back in shape or highlight your physical therapy services.
Taking the time to educate consumers provides additional physical therapy benefits beyond plainly helping consumers live healthier lifestyles. Your consumer education efforts can also help your clinic become recognized as a trusted expert, improve patient compliance and enhance patient understanding.
Learn more about hosting your own radio show by listening to a podcast with Karen Litzy, PT, at PTTalker.com.
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