Why Patient Trust Is Vital to Your Practice

With increasing access to information on the internet, patient expectations are higher than they’ve ever been, and the competition is fierce. Patient trust has always been important for the success and growth of your physical therapy clinic, but this new environment makes it absolutely vital.

Once you gain patient trust, it increases the likelihood they will consistently choose your practice over another. It also gives you a little leeway if problems arise in the future. No matter what may happen, earning the trust of your patients ensures your practice can survive.

Arguably, the “caring” in health care, seems to have declined over the last decade.

So, what is patient trust and how is it earned? This isn’t a new concept, but it’s an area in which some practices fail. The transparency that leads to trust is more than including standard marketing and communications about why your practice is better than the rest — you have to “truly care” about your patients and their problems. 

What Is Patient Trust and Why Is It Important?

Generally, patient trust happens when you have a deep understanding of your patients’ needs and a valid solution to their problems. You provide them with relevant information and personalized care that caters to their unique needs, rather than just touting the benefits of choosing your practice.

Ultimately, this trust is about putting the patient first in your marketing content and your services.

The reason trust is more important now than it’s ever been is a direct result of the variety of treatment options available to patients today. Patients no longer need to choose between only one or two clinics. They have options and virtually limitless access to reviews & testimonials that can give them an idea of what you have to offer.

Because of this, practice owners need to look beyond the competitive pricing, features, and benefits, and direct their attention more toward the history and legacy. Patients have become empowered and skeptical, so they’re looking for the whole package — one that will not only give them reliable solutions to their pain, but also a physical therapy practice with patient services they can count on now and in the future. Ideally, your services will address their dysfunction, disability, and functional limitations; but in the event your services don’t completely alleviate their problems, patients still want to have an exceptional experience.  

In my personal experience, patients often care as much about the customer service, communication, and convenience as they do the outcomes of the treatment.  In other words, they don’t expect miracles, just a sincere attempt by the physical therapy practice to rehabilitate them.

How Is Patient Trust Created?

As we know, the idea of building consumer trust isn’t new, but it is difficult to achieve. Just making promises about your practice is no longer enough, since patients are looking for actions that back-up your claims. This has a big influence on loyalty as well since patients are more likely to return to the practice that gave them the experience and results they wanted the first time around.

Authenticity is key. Authenticity is the one thing that transcends industries, generations, and cultures since it’s the universal thing that all patients are looking for. It’s about being transparent and giving patients what they expect, both in developing the patient/therapist relationship and delivering on their expectations of meeting personal health goals and finding a solution to their existing condition.

Of course, authenticity and transparency are useless for the pure sake of it. You need to be able to translate this into the right verbiage, demonstrating an in-depth understanding of your patients’ needs and expectations, so you can provide them with relevant, valuable solutions. Superlatives, false claims, half-truths and other marketing hype that can’t be verified, instantly read as false, credibility killers. Focus on positive information of substance and value to your patient.

Also, if you’re falling below expectations in some way, it’s vital to learn from it and find ways to improve. While it may be difficult to accurately measure the value and performance in terms of patient trust, you can set standards for your physical therapy practice to ensure that each aspect of your patient’s experience is accounted for and completed. This not only makes your trust tangible for your audience, but it also keeps your business living up to the image of excellence you’re sharing with your community.

Why Is Patient Trust Hard to Earn?

There are many reasons trust can be hard to earn, but skeptical and savvy patients are the main reason. More and more false claims, scams, data breaches and misuse of data are dominating the headlines. It’s becoming more difficult for consumers to immediately trust a business and be open to trying the little known practice of physical therapy.

Fortunately, this issue is easy to combat if you’re truly putting the patient first. A physical therapy practice must be clear about its purpose and values, as well as being transparent with policy and procedures. Perception is everything, and a clinic that offers the truth is more likely to have good impressions with potential patients.

There’s been a shift in power between the practice owner and the consumer. In the past, the physicians and physical therapy practice owners had the power and patients had to accept what was given. Now, patients have a broad outlook and understand more about what physical therapy should and should not be, so they’re less forgiving of missteps. Patients want a practice that shows loyalty and demonstrates shared values, so an effective strategy would be to align your practice’s values with the information you’d gladly offer to the public.

In addition, transparency is often forced upon the physical therapy practice, since patients can “find dirt on the practice” if they look hard enough. More than ever, questionable ethics and lack of sincerity are a major risk.  It’s so easy for them now to be published on social media and to be found by potential patients, leaving a practice looking disingenuous and sleazy.  Of course, this is worse than having no trust at all.

Handling Breaches of Trust

As hard as it is to earn the trust of your patients in the first place, it’s even harder to get it back following a breach. That’s why developing deep trust with your patient base in the first place, is the only way to bounce back and survive the fallout.

Physical therapy groups that offer a positive patient experience that meets or exceeds their expectations and delivers benefits that resonate with the patient is so important.  An overall culture that demonstrates a willingness to learn from mistakes is paramount. Gone are the days of media spin, since the best way to approach a mistake in the current climate is by owning up to shortcomings and showing a determination to move forward.

ADVANCED TIP: while most practice owners understand the importance of capturing online ratings and reviews, still very few do it.  Moreover, responding to negative reviews is a great example of owning up to legitimate mistakes that happen in the practice.

If handled properly, a small mistake or breach of trust can even provide an opportunity for growth. A physical therapy practice that gracefully addresses a mistake and has an effective plan to recover can gain some positive exposure.


While the patient’s trust may sound like a swift strategy or “silver bullet” for new leads and business growth, it’s anything but. Trust is difficult to earn and keep and is far more than just a marketing strategy.

The authenticity and transparency necessary to garner real patient trust come from honest communications, a solid practice culture, and treating the patient as you would want to be treated, rather than just lip service on your physical therapy website or marketing materials.

Though it’s clear that consumers want a relationship built on trust with their physical therapist, their general trust of small businesses isn’t high. This can be an area of opportunity for new or developing clinics, or physical therapy groups looking to revamp their image and surge ahead of competitors. Whether we like it or not, the power is with the consumer, so it’s more important than ever to put their needs first for business success.

Physical Therapy Content Marketing – Creating a Budget

For most physical therapists, their expertise in having a successful practice is not linked to their personal knowledge of business or physical therapy content marketing.  It comes from their passion to deliver solutions to their patient’s physical needs.  Clinic owners have invested years into their physical therapy education, and it is this knowledge, patient care, and exceptional customer service that will ultimately set them apart from all other competitors.

The question is how will your community know you are the best?  Regardless of how special you make your patients feel when coming to your clinic, you need to get the word out. This is where as a business owner you need to grasp the reality that you must have a PT content strategy. Here are some tips on what you will need to plan for your marketing budget, which ultimately will determine your marketing plan.

Defining your available funds

Setting your sites on a specific dollar amount is unfamiliar territory for most owners, about ⅓ of small business owners have no idea how much they are spending on content marketing.  Knowledge is power though, and if you can keep to a focused marketing budget and plan, you will be able to track your progress and execute on necessary changes as you see what works and what does not. Practice owners want to spend enough to compete in the local market, but not so much that they become financially over extended.  There are a few must haves and a few should haves in today’s marketing budget; how you decide to fulfill these needs will help you set your budget.

#1 Must Have… a physiotherapy content marketing creative writer and editor.  

Whether you hire an outside source or delegate the duties to an in-house employee, their time spent on creating content will be portioned into your budget.  

For in-house employees, including yourself, the time spent compared with salary/wage should be factored into your expenses.  If you should decide to hire an agency for creative content, keep in mind that their expenses will cover more than just intellectual property, it will also include their taxes and overhead.  

#2 must have… a graphic designer that understands physical rehab content marketing

Content is the wording created by your writer.  How you envision the delivery is decided upon conversations you have with your graphic designer.  Premium content is packaged nicely with eye candy surrounding it. Pictures, logos, color schemes all play an important part in capturing the attention of your future patient.  This allocation of budget can also be fulfilled by an in-house employee or outsourced to an agency for a higher level of customization.

#3 Must Have…. A Physical Therapy Content Publisher

Without someone to push all your content out to online sources, all your efforts won’t do you much good.  According to eMarketer, 84% of all businesses will use digital content marketing in 2018.  Content publishing can again be managed by an in-house employee, but keep in mind the hours spent per week to keep your social media sites lively and your emails, blogs, and newsletters interesting should be taken seriously, and considered to be a part of your employees job description.  The time spent compared to wages/salary should again be taken into account, and not thought of as something to only do during down time.

#4 Should Have…. Content Promotion Expenses.  

The greater your budget, the wider net you can cast.  Your content audience is heavily determined by how easy your potential patients can find you online.  In this case, a set amount should be determined for paid social media presence and retargeting ads. On average you can figure approximately $1000 should be allocated to this need with ¾ of that budget geared for social promotion and ¼ for retargeting ads.  

#5 Must Have…. A Marketing Strategy Manager.  

Your marketing plan needs to be thought out, so that every bit of content hits an intentional target.  Unstructured content will not define your practice or deliver a deliberate message that you are the best in your community.  You will need someone to create and calendar out the messages you want to deliver through the year. Start with an overall theme for a period of time like 6 months.  Make it simple.  For example, the them could be “natural care.”  Then take one month at a time with a specific goal. For example:

  • January could focus on how your physical therapy practice provides natural care for the KNEE. 
  • February covers the area of neck pain, and so on.
  • March might be about the natural care of physical therapy compared to medications.

Each month gives you the opportunity to prove your expertise in the focused area, showing your patients you are the leader in your industry. Your marketing budget will determine how much attention you can allocate to this focus, but even on the slimist of budgets do not underestimate the importance of creating a plan.  

physical therapy content marketing

So how much will this cost me?

It is truly difficult to establish what the industry standards for physical therapy marketing content will cost you.  There are so many variables for each practice, and how much that practice can afford to delegate. Here are two working budgets that may give you an estimate of what you can expect. 

The Bare Bones Budget- $500 per month, plus 20 hours of employee time.

  • 15 hours of your time dedicated to content development, planning and writing
  • 5 hours of content management for social media and emails.
  • $200 for tools such as graphic design software, email manager, SEO measurement, and other content publishing/management tools.
  • $800 for paid content promotion for paid social media and $200 for retargeting ads.

The Cutting Edge Budget-$2000. Per month but read below to learn more about how E-rehab.com can help.

  • $1000. For an agency enlisted for content development, planning and writing, or the option of a full time paid employee to be your marketing director.  
  • $200 for necessary software tools
  • $800. For paid content promotions and $200 for retargeting ads

A few last thoughts to consider when planning your content marketing budget

It is often hard to spend money on things we cannot physically touch. In a way it’s like buying new pipes for your house.  You know they are there and provide security from old busted pipes, but you don’t really see them and you certainly can’t drive it around like a new car. Your reward for following a well thought out marketing budget and plan, will be in the return of investment (ROI). Your practice will benefit with new patients being able to find you.  

Keep in mind that every community has its own unique needs and characteristics, by understanding what your potential patients are looking for will help you financially plan with purpose.  Be flexible and monitor your different campaigns, knowing what worked and what did not is vital to moving ahead. Modify the marketing campaign calendar to include more of what works, and drop ideas of what did not work.  The decision of how to implement your content marketing budget with either in house talent, hiring an agency, or a combination of the two sources is entirely up to you. Just be honest of what you or your staff is truly capable of producing with both talent and time.  

Why You Don’t Have to Spend $2000/mo in Content Marketing

E-rehab.com has spent that last 15 years providing physical therapy private practices with content marketing strategies.  Since we know online marketing and content marketing as well as anyone in the private practice space, this translates into cost savings for you.

We can provide you with the following:

  • Custom blog posts
  • News stories
  • Promotional videos
  • 20+ social media posts
  • and more.

For a fraction of the cost needed to hire an agency that doesn’t know or specialize in the physical therapy private practice market, E-rehab.com has you covered.

We encourage you to contact us at (760) 585-9097 or email me at dave@e-rehab.com .



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