5 Techniques for Increasing Patient Volume at Your Sports Medicine Practice

Orthopedic Sports Medicine

It has become necessary for many specialists and practices to market their services more proactively than in the past. Beyond providing great treatment outcomes, orthopedic and sports medicine practices must competitively reach out to their community to ensure patient volume. Angie Van Utrecht, director of operations at Orthopedic Specialists in Davenport, Iowa, says her practice has been able to attract patients in a highly competitive market using alternatives to traditional media marketing techniques. Ms. Van Utrecht shares five techniques for spreading the word about orthopedic and sports medicine practices.

1. Open a sports training facility.
There is a big focus on preventative care among sports medicine professionals today and one way to ensure young athletes are getting that message is through a sports training facility. The facility should employ athletic trainers and other professionals focused on teaching athletes about age- and sport-appropriate stretching and training. Orthopedic Specialists owns Acceleration Quad Cities, a sports training facility that is part of the Athletic Republic franchise.

Practices looking to become a "one-stop shop" for sports medicine care and treatment should especially consider owning an athletic training facility. Though Acceleration itself doesn't generate much income, Ms. Van Utrecht says "it is a huge funnel of athletes into our practice."

2. Hire an athletic trainer for the practice.
Having an athletic trainer available at the practice is important to ensure the patient is seeking full treatment and services from the practice. In addition to working in an athletic training facility, athletic trainers have a background in musculoskeletal treatment and are able to perform many functions at the practice, including patient instruction for rehabilitation techniques and durable medical equipment fitting, says Ms. Utrecht.

Practices that have partnerships with local schools can also send the athletic trainer to team practices and games. The trainer should be available to immediately assess an athlete's injury and function as a liaison between the athlete, parents, coaches and the practice if further treatment is necessary.

3. Offer Saturday morning clinics year-round.
While many practices already have sports Saturday sports injury clinics open during the fall sports and football seasons, Ms. Van Utrecht says successful sports medicine practices should offer these clinics to athletes all year. The Saturday morning clinics can be helpful to athletes beyond football players, such as basketball players and weekend warriors. If these individuals know the clinic is available, they are likely to utilize its services when an injury occurs. As Ms. Van Utrecht points out, "soccer, basketball and volleyball (which are fall sports) have the highest rate of ACL tears." Cheerleaders and track athletes are also likely to incur injuries during the winter and spring seasons.

4. Reach out to primary care physicians. Patients who are unfamiliar with orthopedic and sports medicine practices often visit their primary care physician after an injury. However, some primary care physicians are not experienced in reading x-rays from orthopedic injuries or providing treatment, such as casting. Practices should form relationships with primary care physicians by offering to give x-rays a second look and discuss patient diagnosis and treatment plans. If a primary care physician is familiar with your practice physicians, he or she will be more comfortable referring patients to the practice.

5. Host educational sessions and answer questions.
Many orthopedic and sports medicine practices offer coaches and athletes preseason clinics for preventative care education. These clinics often draw an audience of potential patients and their parents, who could also be potential patients, says Ms. Van Utrecht. After the clinic, the presenting physician should offer to answer informal, individual questions. This way, parents or athletes can approach the physician and ask questions they did not want to pose in front of a large group.

Ms. Van Utrecht says that when one of the physicians from Orthopedic Specialists offered to answer individual questions, many of the parents lined up to ask questions about injuries or pain they were experiencing. Essentially, the physician gave free advice to the contributing audience members, which helped him form a relationship with future patients. "He absolutely connected with these individuals and took the time to answer all their questions," says Ms. Van Utrecht.

Learn more about Orthopedic Specialists.

Learn more about Acceleration Quad Cities.

Read more coverage on sports medicine practices:

- 3 Tips for Marketing Orthopedic Practices

- 7 Best Practices to Reduce Missed Appointments

- 10 Articles to Improve Orthopedic and Spine Practice Profits

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