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In 2005, Rob Vining developed and launched the world’s first digital practice for physical therapy. His telehealth model allowed him to accept and treat patients far and wide on a cash-pay basis, and it became clear those patients were getting great results.

In time, Vining found himself focusing more on developing software tools that would enable medical professionals to easily enter the growing telehealth market. He and his students are proving the potential for PTs to become more efficient and profitable by making telehealth visits available for the convenience of existing patients. They have also been able to reach the large number of potential customers who are unable or unwilling to pursue in-person PT.

In this interview, Rob explains how telehealth visits work in terms of effectiveness, technology, workflow, marketing and conversions, and legal issues … and he also explains something I didn’t realize was possible: how a telehealth component added to your website can massively increase in-clinic/local leads for your brick-and-mortar practice!

He shares details about how software tools make such visits easy to implement and relatively low cost for those considering a jump into private practice. His approaches for marketing, including a highly effective strategy for lead generation, offer any practice an opportunity to create new sources of revenue with little risk. And finally, he offers a very-encouraging update on telehealth legislation that may soon bring telehealth into the mainstream in terms of Medicare and insurance acceptance.

More specifically, we discuss these cash-based practice topics:

  • How software can allow PTs to provide HIPAA-compliant telehealth consults.
  • How telehealth offers the lowest-risk option of starting a new cash-based practice.
  • The strategy he used to get gym owners to eagerly refer him to their members.
  • Using telehealth as an effective approach to treating patients who simply don’t have the time for traditional PT visits.
  • My “manual therapist objection” to the idea of not being able to touch my patients, and why telehealth can even be a lucrative and effective addition to a manual therapy practice like mine. How telehealth can allow your practice to serve an entirely different group of potential patients.
  • The importance of requiring advance payment for telehealth consults and how refunding those payments when they are not a good fit for telehealth creates more marketing opportunities.
  • Adding telehealth capability as an adjunct to traditional physical therapy can allow you to serve a much broader audience and improve your marketing efforts and bottom line.
  • Shipping light, low-cost exercise equipment/supplies to patients’ homes helps keep patients compliant and generates enthusiastic word of mouth marketing buzz for your practice.
  • The legalities of telehealth related to licensing, PT Compact, some recent laws enacted for Delaware and Texas, informed consent, getting permission to record video consults, HIPAA.
  • An online physical therapist chat service that provides brief initial consults via your website (for free) in order to attract and convert leads to your brick-and-mortar cash practice.
  • How to target niche markets with videos to generate leads and networking opportunities.
  • The key components of a “hook” that will quickly convert leads into paying customers.
  • How an inexpensive ad campaign that refers to a free chat visit with an expert will reliably convert contacts into paying patients.
  • Using telehealth as a lead generator for traditional physical therapy.
  • The Telehealth 10K promotional contest: every entrant gains immediate access to a large library of telehealth educational content and one winner gets $10,000.
  • News on the increasing acceptance of telehealth within the category of physical therapy.

Resources mentioned in this episode: