This arti­cle is part of the blog series:

Why is it worth invest­ing in self-pay in phys­io­ther­a­py right now?

The phys­io­ther­a­py indus­try is fac­ing a moun­tain of chal­lenges that we already report­ed in one of our blog arti­cles. In 2021, for exam­ple, these pri­mar­i­ly include billing bar­ri­ers, poor reim­burse­ments, spe­cial hur­dles dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, and the short­age of time and skilled work­ers. In addi­tion, the call for inde­pen­dence from health insur­ance ben­e­fits is becom­ing loud­er and loud­er to be able to increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales. An exten­sion of the offer regard­ing the sec­ond health mar­ket, which has been grow­ing for years, seems to be an attrac­tive option for many phys­io­ther­a­pists. In order to remain prof­itable and to be able to increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales, phys­io­ther­a­pists usu­al­ly have to offer addi­tion­al ser­vices in their prac­tices. With the step into the sec­ond health mar­ket, the prac­tice breaks away from the pure depen­dence of the physi­cians and insur­ance com­pa­nies. Thus, the ther­a­py and train­ing room no longer has to be financed sole­ly from prescriptions.

Before enter­ing the self-pay sec­tor, how­ev­er, phys­i­cal ther­a­pists face many questions:

Is the invest­ment even worth it in the cur­rent times and chal­leng­ing for many industries?How can I use dig­i­tal­iza­tion and inno­v­a­tive con­cepts for myself and build up a lucra­tive self-pay sec­tor despite a lack of staff? (How) Can I con­vince and inspire my patients with the offer? Does­n’t that mean even more work for my employ­ees and me? We have dealt with these ques­tions. We have researched and talked to the experts in this field, who are you — the phys­io­ther­a­pists. Over the next few weeks, we will be devot­ing one of these ques­tions each week. Here we will present you with the answers, thoughts and day-to-day cur­rent chal­lenges of today’s physiotherapists.

Increase Phys­io­ther­a­py Sales

Part 1 of 3: Is it even worth the invest­ment in the cur­rent times?

How can I make dig­i­tal­iza­tion and inno­v­a­tive con­cepts work for me? How can I increase my phys­i­cal ther­a­py sales and build a lucra­tive self-pay busi­ness despite staff shortages?

The short answer is: Yes, it’s worth it.
Espe­cial­ly now!


The long answer fol­lows imme­di­ate­ly. There have cer­tain­ly been some pos­i­tive devel­op­ments in phys­io­ther­a­py in recent years and months. Progress on issues such as dig­i­tal­iza­tion, pro­fes­sion­al train­ing and the intro­duc­tion of var­i­ous reforms is the right direc­tion in this regard. For exam­ple, the new pre­scrip­tion of reme­dies or the Dig­i­tal Care Act, (DVG): Dig­i­tale-Ver­sorgung-Gesetz (Ger­many). How­ev­er, they are far from suf­fi­cient to ful­ly over­come the broad barriers.

Increase physical therapy sales: now is the time to build up your self-pay sector.

That’s because phys­io­ther­a­py con­tin­ues to face grow­ing prob­lems in the pri­ma­ry care mar­ket, and has for sev­er­al years. Apart from the depen­dence of the med­ical pre­scrip­tion prac­tice and the legal cash sys­tem, this is above all the lack of spe­cial­ists. Also, finan­cial hur­dles and per­plex­i­ty with the top­ic of Phys­io­ther­a­pie turnover increase are no small tasks.

Eco­nom­ic prac­tice man­age­ment is pos­si­ble in the long term only with an increased remuneration.

The WAT report 2020 (“Eco­nom­ic effi­cien­cy analy­sis of ambu­la­to­ry ther­a­py prac­tices” – Ger­man: “Wirtschaftlichkeit­s­analyse ambu­lanter Ther­a­pieprax­en“) pro­vides clear facts. In the long term, it will only be pos­si­ble to run a prof­itable prac­tice if there is a sig­nif­i­cant increase in remu­ner­a­tion for the treat­ment of patients with statu­to­ry health insur­ance. Depend­ing on the ther­a­peu­tic prod­ucts sec­tor, this would have to amount to between 42% and 92%. In addi­tion, the prob­lems sur­round­ing the omnipresent short­age of spe­cial­ists in the more than 38,000 phys­io­ther­a­py prac­tices estab­lished in Ger­many in 2020 are also empha­sized. As ear­ly as 2016, the Ger­man Fed­er­al Employ­ment Agency includ­ed phys­i­cal ther­a­pists in its “Skilled Work­er Short­age Analy­sis” as an occu­pa­tion­al group with a sig­nif­i­cant short­age of skilled workers.

To be prof­itable and to be able to increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales, phys­io­ther­a­pists now have to offer addi­tion­al ser­vices in their practices

Increase physical therapy sales: now is the time to build up your self-pay sector.

Due to the lack of resource employ­ees, the growth oppor­tu­ni­ties for the busi­ness mod­el of “clas­sic” phys­io­ther­a­py are often severe­ly lim­it­ed”, Sascha Tet­zlaff, edu­ca­tion­al assis­tant and lec­tur­er at the Ger­man Uni­ver­si­ty for Pre­ven­tion and Health Man­age­ment (DHf­PG), states. This means that due to the lack of staff, many phys­io­ther­a­py prac­tices can­not afford to gen­er­ate more rev­enue and grow pure­ly through pre­scrip­tions. They have nei­ther the time, nor the mon­ey, nor the man­pow­er to accom­plish more in the area of tra­di­tion­al phys­io­ther­a­py than they already do.

The step into the sec­ond health care mar­ket is worthwhile

On the oth­er hand, phys­io­ther­a­pists and prac­tice own­ers are increas­ing­ly inter­est­ed in enter­ing the self-pay sec­tor as entre­pre­neurs. And this step into the sec­ond health mar­ket is worthwhile.

The fact is that to be prof­itable and increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales, phys­io­ther­a­pists now have to offer addi­tion­al ser­vices in their prac­tices. The inte­gra­tion of a self-pay­er area ensures that the prac­tice can free itself from the pure depen­dence of doc­tors and insur­ance com­pa­nies. Thus a larg­er, both tem­po­ral and finan­cial clear­ance for the ther­a­pists can devel­op. In addi­tion, the expand­ed range of ser­vices offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty of retain­ing patients as cus­tomers in the long term as well as attract­ing new customers.

The expand­ed range of ser­vices in phys­io­ther­a­py can not only relieve the ther­a­pists of time but also sup­port them in terms of phys­i­cal strain

Even in our dis­cus­sions with var­i­ous phys­io­ther­a­pists, the basic tenor is always the same. The self-pay­er sec­tor in phys­io­ther­a­py is worth­while. With the inde­pen­dence of health insur­ances, a larg­er finan­cial clear­ance goes along. This offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty to plan and act in a more deter­mined way and to increase the phys­io­ther­a­py turnover. And that sus­tain­ably. Also, the fac­tor of time plays a large role. Because with­out the pre­scrip­tions in the back remains more for the indi­vid­ual inten­sive sup­port of the patients. This ben­e­fits not only the patients but also the ther­a­pists. And right now, there are unique opportunities.

As a result of the pan­dem­ic, dig­i­ti­za­tion has already been deeply inte­grat­ed into peo­ple’s every­day lives. Be it through online con­sul­ta­tions or fam­i­ly meet­ings via video call, for exam­ple. This devel­op­ment is also evi­dent in phys­io­ther­a­py. Dig­i­tal­iza­tion is advanc­ing and the mar­ket for dig­i­tal ther­a­py ser­vices is grow­ing rapid­ly. A wide vari­ety of inno­va­tions can pro­vide addi­tion­al sup­port to bal­ance out the scarce resource of employ­ees. This means that a smart­ly planned expand­ed range of phys­io­ther­a­py ser­vices can now not only relieve ther­a­pists’ time con­straints. Thanks to dig­i­ti­za­tion, they can also be sig­nif­i­cant­ly sup­port­ed in terms of phys­i­cal stress.

Increase physical therapy sales: now is the time to build up your self-pay sector.

Thanks to dig­i­ti­za­tion: no longer hav­ing to repeat­ed­ly show each exer­cise in per­son and recov­er from stren­u­ous, phys­i­cal ther­a­py sessions

This fac­tor, for exam­ple, has also been a big com­po­nent for phys­io­ther­a­pist Heike Schaible from Stuttgart in set­ting up her sec­ond self-pay area last year. With the help of the inte­gra­tion of the dig­i­tal Pix­for­mance train­ing con­cept, she also want­ed to do her employ­ees a favor. The dig­i­tal train­ing sta­tion effec­tive­ly sup­ports the ther­a­pists in their patient care. This is achieved with the help of the vir­tu­al train­er, real-time cor­rec­tions and train­ing feed­back. It also fills any gaps in staffing. This is because ther­a­pists no longer have to repeat­ed­ly demon­strate each exer­cise in per­son. In oth­er words, they can take a break from the stren­u­ous phys­i­cal ther­a­py ses­sions. In addi­tion, oth­er patients can be cared for while oth­ers con­tin­ue to train inde­pen­dent­ly on the exer­cise equipment.

Phys­io­ther­a­pist Axel-André Richter from the Richter & Lopez health prac­tice in Mönchenglad­bach report­ed that he also uses the Pix­for­mance sta­tion as a back­up in case of ill­ness so that the ther­a­py ses­sion does not have to be can­celled. The flex­i­bil­i­ty gained also ben­e­fits the day-to-day run­ning of the practice.

Increas­ing phys­io­ther­a­py sales: Only a cus­tomized solu­tion can lead to the suc­cess you are hop­ing for 

Increase physical therapy sales: now is the time to build up your self-pay sector.

How­ev­er, even though there are many advan­tages, an invest­ment must be a per­fect fit with the dai­ly rou­tine of the prac­tice, the staff and the patients. There­fore, it is essen­tial to set up the self-pay area indi­vid­u­al­ly for own prac­tice and the own team to be able to increase the phys­io­ther­a­py turnover. Only a tai­lor-made solu­tion can lead to the hoped-for high-turnover suc­cess. At this point, it is also impor­tant to intro­duce the (new) offers to the patients accordingly.

The clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the extend­ed offer plays an impor­tant role here

Patients must be made aware that there are addi­tion­al phys­io­ther­a­py options beyond the pre­scrip­tions, for which they must pay them­selves. Accord­ing­ly, sup­port in mar­ket­ing and mar­ket­ing the new offer to the own employ­ees, but also the patients, is essen­tial. Be it through info sheets, fly­ers, posters or newslet­ters. Only in such a way the offer can be under­stood as well as accept­ed and thus the Phys­io­ther­a­py con­ver­sion increases.

The phys­io­ther­a­pist Heike Schaible has made it eas­i­er for her patients to under­stand and has relied on sep­a­rate premis­es for her self-pay areas for this pur­pose. “The spa­tial sep­a­ra­tion now also makes the sep­a­ra­tion of ser­vices more appar­ent to patients.” In addi­tion, inno­v­a­tive offer­ings can help here as well. Mod­ern and new phys­io­ther­a­py offer­ings make it pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate ser­vices from tra­di­tion­al pre­scrip­tions. Instead of a new mas­sage prac­tice that makes the dif­fer­ence dif­fi­cult to see, dig­i­tal offer­ings in the sec­ondary health­care mar­ket can high­light the new, expand­ed ser­vice. More­over, these tend to arouse curios­i­ty and attract a wide vari­ety of tar­get groups. In addi­tion, they pro­vide a unique sell­ing point — even com­pared to oth­er practices.

So one thing is cer­tain: the self-pay sec­tor offers many possibilities

Not only to increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales. In addi­tion to the inde­pen­dence of health insur­ance ben­e­fits, cus­tomer acqui­si­tion and cus­tomer loy­al­ty, a dig­i­tal offer can also pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant relief for ther­a­pists right now. And thus for a more pleas­ant, more var­ied and stress-free work­ing day. The accep­tance of dig­i­tal offer­ings on the part of employ­ees, patients, but also prac­tices, as well as the state of the art and the unique oppor­tu­ni­ties asso­ci­at­ed with it, are more lucra­tive than ever before. Stud­ies also show: Accep­tance of dig­i­tal helpers is increas­ing. Con­cerns, on the oth­er hand, are dwin­dling. Result­ing from this: Curios­i­ty and demand for dig­i­tal offer­ings are also on the rise. Both the old­er and younger gen­er­a­tions are more open to dig­i­tal prod­ucts than ever before. For phys­io­ther­a­py, this is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to use this now for itself and to enter the self-pay sec­tor, and to be able to increase phys­io­ther­a­py sales.


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