Physical therapy is an evolving field that helps millions of people around the globe to get their lives back on track after surgery or trauma. Physical therapy is the treatment of choice for people suffering from musculoskeletal pain conditions, movement disorders, and stroke. In addition to improving muscle strength and joint range of motion, physical therapy helps improve the quality of life of older adults, enhances the performance of professional and recreational athletes, and offers solutions for pain and motor disorders in people of all ages.
In response to growing demand, the number of physical therapy businesses has increased at an average of 3% per year between 2015 and 2020 (“Physical Therapists in the US Number of Businesses”).
Basics of Marketing a PT Practice
Marketing physical therapy services in a digital world poses a new challenge for modern PT practices. The following elements are key to successful digital marketing:
- Current overall status of the PT market in 2020 compared to previous years, and projected growth
- Population size and current demand for PT services
- Internet use and demographics
- A comprehensive marketing plan outlining the main goals and expected revenues
- State-of-the-art website development and maintenance
- Winning SEO and PPC campaigns
- Engaging content and interactive design
- Distinctive online presence and excellent professional reputation
- Establishing a community and advertising on popular social platforms
- Modern technologies, mobile devices, Google analytics, and other software
Positive Forecast for the PT Business Market in the Coming Decade
According to recent history and future forecasts, the PT industry is developing at a steady rate and has bright future prospects:
- The PT industry evolved at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% between the years 2004-2013, and at a CAGR of 7% between 2013-2018 (Harris & Williams & IBISWorld 1).
- The PT market size was $29.6 BN in 2018 (Harris & Williams & IBISWorld 1 ); in 2020, it reached 33.1 bn (“Physical Therapists in the US Market”).
- The PT and occupational therapy fields will grow at the rate of 6.2% from 2017 to 2023, from $34.5 bn in 2018 to $45.7 bn by 2023 (LaRosa).
Research by APTA shows an ongoing demand for PT therapists: (“Projecting the Supply and Demand of Physical Therapists”):
- The estimated demand for physical therapists between the years of 2016 – 2025 ranges from 238,000 to 255,000
- The current availability of physical therapy services in 2020, even with a practitioner attrition rate of 1.5%, is still lower than the demand
- With a practitioner attrition rate at 1.5%, the shortage may be resolved by 2024
- At higher therapist attrition rates of 2.5% and 3.5%, demand will not be met by 2025
Other sources predict an above average of PT workforce in the coming years:
- The US Bureau of Labour and Statistics projects that employment for physical therapists will rise at an above average rate of 18% between 2019 and 2029 (“Physical Therapists : Occupational Outlook Handbook”)
- The number of PT assistants will experience rapid growth of 27.1% between 2018-2028 (Duffin)
Additional facts and statistics about the PT industry
- The overall US market size is 33.1 bn (“Physical Therapists in the US Market Size”)
- The largest PT practices constitute about 21% of the overall market share. But there are still many single private practices that may undergo mergers (LaRosa)
- About 38,000 PT clinics in the US offer additional services like occupational therapy, speech therapy, and others (LaRosa)
- The primary sources of profit are managed care plans, health insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, and workers’ compensation (LaRosa)
- The greatest number of PT businesses are concentrated in CA, NY, and FL (“Physical Therapists in the US Number of Businesses”)
- The highest business costs of PT fall on wages (51%), purchases (6%), rent, and additional expenses (6.3%) (“Physical Therapists in the US Number of Businesses”)
- Market share is low, at 5% or less (Physical Therapists in the US Number of Businesses, 2020)
- The highest paid physical therapists are located in doctor’s offices (Data USA)
- The global PT equipment market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% between 2020-2027 (“Physiotherapy Equipment”)
General facts about the US population and PT services consumers:
- At least 1 out of 2 people aged 18 years and older have a musculoskeletal issue (“Musculoskeletal Diseases And the Burden”)
- About 3 out of 4 people aged 65+ have a musculoskeletal problem (“Musculoskeletal Diseases And the Burden”)
- There are currently 331,674,530 people in the US (“United States Population (LIVE)”; Data Query)
- About 66.8 % of the US population are between the ages of 15-64 years (“United States of America (USA) Population”; “The 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects”)
- About 13.1% are over the age of 65 (“United States of America (USA) Population; “The 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects”)
- Children, teens, and professional athletes experience a variety of sports and activity-related injuries each year. Research shows that, on average, 8.6 million athletic injuries took place each year between 2011-2014 (Sheu, Yahtyng et al).
From the above data, it is clear that the majority of people will experience some type of musculoskeletal problem, especially in the 65+ age group. This means that PT services will still be in demand and have good prospects in the future.Yet as many other industries, the PT industry is affected by extensive technological progress. In 2020 billions of people use virtual technology, computers, and mobile devices to assess services. According to the research by Clement:
- 4.66 BN internet users around the world
- 4.28 BN mobile internet users
- 4.14 BN social media users
Besides, With such an evident technological boom the option of receiving care via telehealth and mobile health comes into question.The 2019 survey of 310 PTs in Florida reports (Capellan and Sineus 23, 26):
- 77.42% of PTs think that telecare will improve care quality
- 81.36% think telecare can reduce overall costs for patients
- 90.33% think that telehealth can act as supplement to traditional care
Based on the fact that the global and the US population has made a great leap towards digitalization, there are several points of consideration that PT clinics encounter while advancing towards providing online services:
Develop a strong online presence to gain the interest of future patients.
According to Internet World Stats, there are currently 313,322,868 Internet users in the US, a tremendous growth from 95,354,000 in 2000 (Internet World Stats). Additionally, research by Statista shows the percentage of internet usage by age group (Clement; “Demographics of Internet and Home”):
- 18-29 – 100%
- 30-49 – 97%
- 50-64 – 88%
- 65+ – 73%
Since the majority of people in the United States now spend time on the Internet, a prominent online presence is a must for every PT clinic.
A Single and High-quality Website
Google research shows that promoting just one quality website can increase organic traffic and CTR (click-through-rate) by 64% (“Consolidating Content”).
A Robust SEO Campaign
Recent research by Google shows that a large volume of organic traffic comes from Google Search, and more than 50% of shoppers say they use the Google search engine when looking for a new brand (Google. “Global Retail Study”).
Following best practices when building and maintaining a website can double organic traffic, according to Google (“The Google My Business Marketing Site”).
Fast Web Loading Speed
According to Google, top marketers are 31% more likely to invest in innovative technologies that increase a website’s loading speed to ensure a high-quality user experience (“Marketing and Measurement Survey.”).
Google research suggests that mobile pages with loading speeds of 2 seconds or less have a 15 % higher conversion rate than their slower counterparts (Google. “Why Mobile Site UX Matters.”).
High Quality Local Coverage
As per Google, 76% of smartphone users visit a venue within a day of conducting a local search, and 28% of local searches translate into actual purchases (Google. “Digital Diary…”).
Ads with Intellectual Depth and Emotion
Meaningful marketing allows customers to derive more satisfaction from their purchases. It addresses customers’ deep desires and long term goals. Based on recent research by Google and Deloitte, such ads improve CTR by 30% and raise intent to purchase by 15% (Thygesen).
Recent research by Backlinko (Dean) and Ahrefs (Ahrefs) shows a correlation between quality links and higher search rankings. The website occupying the first position in Google contains 3.8 times more links than those occupying lower positions.
Mobile Optimization and Smart PPC campaigns
With responsive design, patients can access the PT site and ads from any device – desktop, mobile, or tablet. Research shows that responsive web design combined with AdWords increased mobile traffic by 218% (“With Responsive Web Design”).
As per Google, 53% of consumers say that images make them more inclined to buy a product (“U.S., Shopping & Visualization”).
Based on Google research, from 2017- 2018, there were twice as many consumers watching YouTube videos when looking for a product (Thoma).
According to Cimmino, virtual meetings, events, and presentations can dramatically improve your online marketing campaign.
The key factors to successfully market a PT clinic in 2020 and the upcoming decade are:
- Meeting customers on a personal level with appropriate ad campaigns
- Getting additional professional certifications to be able to serve larger populations with a wide range of conditions
- Developing powerful brand awareness and a strong reputation
- Implementing innovative technologies and analytical tools to analyze the current market, calculate revenues, and forecast the next marketing steps
- Providing telecare services and organizing virtual events
- Ensuring high web quality by running professional SEO campaigns
- Creating Introductory videos
- Establishing a warm community with local and distant customers
- Educating patients by offering them helpful content about musculoskeletal conditions and treatments
- Reaching out to prospective clients on popular social networks
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“Projecting the Supply and Demand of Physical Therapists Through 2025.” APTA, 17 Apr. 2017, https://www.apta.org
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