Learn tips about Class IV laser therapy and other health related topics on the LightForce Therapy Lasers blog! Check back weekly for updated posts.
When investing in a therapy laser, most people spend time comparing the features/benefits of the equipment, but neglect to do their research on the companies behind the equipment. The first question most practitioners are thinking is, “How much is this going to cost me?” The real question might be, “how much am I willing to risk by buying a product that might not be supported by the vendor in the next couple years?” Making a sizable capital purchase should be looked at with a wider view, beyond just the purchase price.
Here are 4 questions every healthcare professional should ask before bringing laser therapy into their practice to avoid making a costly mistake.
Is the company selling the laser also the manufacturer?
At first, this may not seem like an important question. Often vendors selling laser platforms sell equipment from multiple companies with different levels of quality and varying levels of history in the laser market. This can make it difficult to compare apples to apples when looking at a pricing list.
As with any product, quality can vary from company to company. Knowing the service history of the company that makes the laser as well as the track record of the vendor selling the equipment is a good place to start. Looking at how they’ve been reviewed on their website(s) as well as what their social media reviews look like, should start to paint the picture of whether or not you want to start a business relationship with that company. If you are having trouble finding any of this information on a given device or company, this should raise buyers’ level of skepticism regarding the long-term prospects of the potential relationship.
Buying directly from the manufacturer of the equipment has significant benefits. Getting older units serviced can become problematic when purchasing equipment from companies that are not well established. They may go out of business or discontinue carrying the device you purchased. This can make it difficult or impossible to maintain your equipment over the life of the unit.
Dealing with a reputable manufacturer often enables customers to have lasting service options/ warranty opportunities on their laser, which creates peace of mind for the end user regarding service and ensuring the longevity of their purchase. As equipment ages, it also opens the door to trade-in options if your business decides to upgrade the laser. Vendors that simply sell the equipment on a commission basis, usually have no mechanism to trade-in older equipment and provide any value regarding your initial purchase.
For instance, when a laser company introduces a newer platform that may have options you desire, what options do you have? LightForce customers over recent years have been able to upgrade their equipment when desired. They received substantial trade-in value for their older unit and were able to move into the more current i-Series platforms with updated software, and in many cases increased power output. Is having that type of flexibility important to you? If so, asking what kind of trade in programs a company has to offer should be part of your due diligence.
What happens when something goes wrong?
Even the highest quality therapy lasers on the market occasionally need servicing. Having a live voice on the other end of the phone goes a long way in these instances. Having your laser equipment down for any length of time can result in frustration and lost profits. LightForce understands this and provides industry leading customer service, making sure that you are up and running as soon as possible. Often a solution can be worked out within 24 hours, even if that requires a loaner unit being provided.
Questions you should consider regarding customer service include:
- What kind of warranty does the equipment carry? What specifically does it include? Does it only cover the cost or repair, or does it cover shipping too? Is a loaner unit provided during servicing so I can keep treating without interruption?
- When I have a problem or a question, is there a dedicated customer care team available to answer my call or email? Can I trust that they will be able to answer my questions or find someone in a reasonable amount of time? Will they be willing to work with me until my problem is resolved?
- If presented with a challenging case, is there clinical support available to answer treatment questions? What kind of professional answers these questions? Are they able to provide recommendations regarding both clinical and operational problems to ensure optimal results from my laser program?
I’m a provider, not a marketer. How do I make sure this is successful for me?
When you’re focused on providing excellent care for your patients, it’s often difficult to balance the heavy responsibility for marketing your practice. Educating people about your services and increasing your patient base is important for the long-term health of your practice, but you don’t have to do it all yourself –when you are partnered with a company who is as committed to your success as you are.
Make sure you inquire about the level of marketing support a company provides. Do they offer marketing packages for purchase that include both digital and print media? Do they also offer educational resources such as webinars, eBooks, blog posts, etc., that will further bolster your marketing efforts?
Look at the online presence of any companies you are considering. Are they working to educate people about laser therapy? Do they have an active presence on social media and post content that you can share with your audience? Many people rely on the recommendations of friends and family when looking for practitioners, and social media is where they are making these recommendations in real-time, so if you’re not working with a company that is helping promote your services on-line, you are missing out.
Will my staff and I be trained how to use and implement this modality?
It is also crucial to find out what kind of training is offered. You may be eager to get started using your new equipment, but proper training and installation are crucial to the success of your laser therapy program. Inquire carefully about how your staff will be trained on the laser. Is it in person, on line, or is training only provided via printed materials that come with the unit? Training should not only include the basics of equipment operation and treatment techniques, but also steps for achieving clinical integration to make sure you’re generating a desirable ROI from your laser program.
Look for a Partner, Not a Purveyor
Implementing a successful laser therapy program requires more than purchasing a quality piece of equipment. To get the biggest ROI on your investment and your time, you need to closely evaluate the company you decide to partner with as support, longevity, and your ability to rely on their guidance in a number of areas will ultimately define the success of your program.
If you’re ready to get started with a laser therapy program in your practice, click here to schedule your free in-office demonstration and find out why LightForce is your ideal partner.
Contributed by Mark Callanen, PT, DPT, OCS
This is either a term that gets you excited or makes you want to turn the page. Technology has the potential to add value to multiple areas of a practice if it is embraced.
The way people communicate has changed over recent years. Having the ability to communicate with patients on-line via social media and email campaigns are powerful direct marketing tools that can drive new patients to a practice. If you don’t know where to begin regarding social media, there are third party services available for different professions that specialize in this arena. They can perform the heavy lifting via email blasts, social media posts, and a host of other digital services that will bring new patients to the front door with minimal effort from the provider.
Scheduling software that can send out text reminders for appointments can help reduce cancellation and no-show ratios, which will quickly translate to better revenue figures. This may also lead to better patient compliance. 40% of physicians polled stated that using digital means to communicate with patients improved outcomes (source: Trident University poll).
Improving Patient Perception
Equipment and treatment modalities can also add value to a practice. While some manual therapists generally reject modalities, having up to date services and evidence-based equipment will help a practice appear “state of the art” which is a great impression to make on new patients. Newer services like laser therapy are gaining recognition in the public domain and this presents an opportunity to attract new patients.
If you disagree, think about how popular cupping procedures became after the last Summer Olympics when Michael Phelps showed up to the pool with the circular bruises all over his body as he collected his gold medals. Savvy business owners quickly went out and purchased the equipment to capture patients that wanted to try it out. When the buzz for a procedure is out in the general public, you want to have that service in your clinic, or risk losing potential patients to the next clinic on a Google search list that does provide it.
Improving Profit Margin
Non-invasive, Class 4 laser therapy is unique in that is has the ability to quickly reduce pain and ameliorate the tissue healing process. It is a natural adjunct to most plans of care in the rehab setting, which means it can be marketed to existing and new patients alike that are trying to manage pain and inflammation. As the general public is becoming more aware of the need to find non-opioid pain solutions, laser therapy is a value proposition that patients are looking for and a marketing message that owners can get behind. It is a solution that is paying cash dividends to clinic owners investing in this service.
Other cash generating technology involves movement analysis. Common examples would be computer analyzed running assessment and bike fitting programs designed to help endurance athletes maximize efficiency. Other specialized fitness programs that incorporate motion analysis for throwers, golfers, or jumping athletes can tap into one of the most cash-rich areas of private practice; youth athletic performance. Having specialized tools and trained staff members that focus on one or more of these areas is a way to navigate a practice into this revenue stream. “Build it and they will come….”
Computer assisted orthotic prescription is another way to help differentiate practices that want to focus on this area of therapy and charge a premium for this service. Using force readings that can interpret pressures during static and dynamic stance can help improve orthosis or shoe prescription/ fabrication beyond the capacity of taking simple ROM measurements with foam or plaster molds.
Contributed by Mark Callanen, PT, DPT, OCS
How important is the communication between staff and patients in a facility? A recent patient satisfaction poll taken by Medicare.gov stated that all of the top 4 factors, and 5 of the top 8 factors dealt with communication1! These included communication: with nurses, doctors, learning about their medications, responsiveness of staff, and discharge instructions, in that order. How patient interaction is managed can make or break a clinic.
Setting expectations for the patient visit from the first contact with your office has been shown to help decrease patient anxiety and improve patient satisfaction1. This should be followed through during the evaluation. The clinician should explain to the patient what the evaluation entails and how the first visit will be conducted. This step is outlined in the Calgary Cambridge Guide to the Medical Interview2, but is a common factor overlooked by busy practitioners. Taking time to do this will help ensure the patient and clinician are on the same page out of the gate, which is a key to building a strong patient-clinician relationship.
A second key factor to be cognizant of during the evaluation is to get frequent feedback from the patient and make frequent clarifying statements about the information that has been relayed. This ensures that the patient knows they are an active participant in the evaluative process and they are being heard.
At the end of the evaluation it is imperative to provide a detailed summary of your findings in common terms. This will help establish credibility as well as reduce fear related issues that may hamper the patient’s overall mindset regarding their diagnosis. After the problem list has been provided, the clinician should provide a clear prognosis with a detailed plan of care, including the number of visits per week and total number of weeks their treatment is expected to continue. This will help the patient understand their roadmap to overcoming their condition.
Avoid asking the patient “how often they can come in?” or “what would they prefer as a plan of care?” This might seem like a polite route to take at the end of an evaluation, but this tactic will ultimately undermine the authority and credibility of the clinician as the expert of the patient’s condition. Remember, patients are paying the clinician to tell THEM what they need, not vice versa. Avoiding this trap will improve the relationship between the clinician and the patient in almost all cases.
Finally, have a formal system of obtaining patient feedback. A survey conducted by Trident University looking at keys to patient satisfaction found that 50% of patients are not asked if they have any questions or concerns during an office visit1. This can be a huge miss to a practice. Just because a manager doesn’t hear about something, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem present. A formalized process to gain feedback should be in place.
How to handle the various aspects of customer relations within a healthcare setting goes well beyond the scope of this article. However, by helping point out:
- The importance of setting patient expectations
- Techniques to improve active listening skills when engaging patients and
- Why it is essential to be prescriptive regarding a patient plan of care
Most facilities will improve the patient experience. Being mindful of these factors has been shown to improve patient compliance via improved patient satisfaction. If you don’t believe it, give it a try, and ask the patients for their feedback after you make the appropriate adjustments. They will likely appreciate it and probably return for their next appointment.
References 1. Howard. Patient Satisfaction – Why It Matters and How To Improve It. Practice Builders, Jul 2017. https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/patient-satisfaction-why-it-matters-and-how-to-improve-it/ 2. Kurtz SM, Silverman JD, Draper J (1998) Teaching and Learning Communication Skills in Medicine. Radcliffe Medical Press (Oxford)