3D technology took quite some time before it started to be utilized in PT practices… until now. With recent developments in the space, patients and owners are benefitting from this piece of innovation. In this episode, Dr. Joe Simon, CEO of 3DM Diagnostics, shares with us how this technology can improve patient engagement and retention, leading to better outcomes, while also helping PTs obtain objective and scientific measures to guide their care. What used to be considered a future tool for guiding healthcare is currently developing and available for PTs to implement… NOW.
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Using 3D Technology to Elevate Your PT Practice with Dr. Joe Simon of 3DM Diagnostics
It is great seeing you again, being back, chatting with you, and catching up with the group.
The last time we spoke was sometime after the pandemic started. At that time, we were talking about marketing, especially in the environment that we were in at that time. At least bring us up to speed on what you have been doing and maybe a little bit of background on your professional career.
I’m a practicing physical therapist for many years. I have been a business owner for more than fifteen years. I’m an active investor and partner in multiple physical therapy practices and other healthcare providers and practices as well. I have been coaching, consulting, and marketing since 2012. I took a break on all of that in about 2018 because I started investing more in private practices. I took a break on the consulting side and I said, “Let’s take a break from that.”
The pandemic was something so different. We chatted about how we are handling this now. A lot of it was pivots. We were trying to deal with the environment and what was going on. Monday morning quarterback at 20/20 vision, as we say. We look back now and we say, “What could I have done differently? Did anyone have it right? Was laying off all your staff the right move? Was keeping all your staff the right move? Was switching to virtual treatments the right move? Was seeing people and not caring what the mandate was the right move?”
There were so many different things that I talked to people about in different parts of the country, and different parts of the country were affected differently. In the Northeast where I’m located, we were hit early on. It is funny because I can show you a graph where we are trucking along and then there is a nosedive that comes straight off in April of 2020. It stopped but then you look at the other parts of the country. I know some PTs that I have met at PPS and APTA seminars. They were like, “2020 was our best year ever. We killed it this year.”
They were in the Midwest or the South. They were like, “We did so good because everyone had to stay home for work. The PT was allowed to stay open and patients were showing up because it was something to do.” They were having the best year ever. It was a night and day switch. It was oddly crazy. We were very different. We shut down. I have some clinics in the suburbs as well. The clinics in the suburbs did well. The clinics in the city were completely shut down.
Where were you again?
I’m in New York City and New Jersey. The clinics in New Jersey did well because they are technically suburbs. People were home and they were like, “I have nothing else to do at home. I’m going to go to a PT.” New York City was completely a ghost town. I could drive from my house to my office in Manhattan and park on the street, which you are not allowed to do if you have ever been to New York City. You are not allowed to do that, but there was no one there to stop you. The cops didn’t care about saying, “I’m going to give you a ticket. There is a car on the street.” It was a very eerie feeling back then.
Right or wrong, we all learned a lot from it. That is the big takeaway. The clinics in the Midwest were able to deal with it later on when they had some more information. When they got hit with COVID, they had some more information. They were able to tackle it, the ones that were prepared. The clinics in the West and East were handling it differently as well. Coming out of it is where the majority of clinics are looking at what we can do now to get better. That is ultimately where I led into my next stage.
What is that trend that you are seeing that owners are saying, “What can I do now to get better?” Hopefully, owners are learning from the experience and doing something different in terms of how they manage and administer their practices. What are you seeing that owners are looking forward to changing?
Here are a couple of ways to answer this question because I was on a podcast for the nonclinical PT. The reason I’m bringing this up is not to plug them but to say something about it. This was something interesting when I saw it. Because of the pandemic, most of the PTs were laid off. The bigger chains and practices laid off hundreds and thousands of PTs across the country. They were like, “We don’t have the volume. We are going to have to lay you off.” Those PTs got disgruntled. They were like, “I’m not as valuable as I thought I was. I can be replaced very easily.” That is one thing that I saw.3D technology is going to disrupt PT in the future. And that future is now. Click To Tweet
Those PTs started thinking, “With my knowledge base, time and all the years of school, what else can I do?” This was super interesting beyond that podcast because I was learning as much as being interviewed. I was like, “I’m learning a ton from this.” That is one of the things I saw. I saw a lot of people leaving the profession. They are now not actively looking for a clinical job. The study has been out already. I read this. Fifty percent are looking to switch. Thirty percent are actively working, but the other 20% are already gone. They are not coming back.” It is 50%. That is a staggering number of employees that’s not there.
That is something we have to take very seriously as owners. What can we do to attract staff? What can we do to keep that staff? It is the state of the industry where we are. We have been saying it for years. I don’t want to be a broken drum at this point about decreasing reimbursements and the squeeze by the insurance companies. We know that has been happening. That was happening for the last several years that I have owned a practice. It has been going on.
The pandemic sped that up in some aspects where some people were like, “It is okay.” What happened was, and this is my theory on this, the payments for COVID were so high. The health insurance companies now have to figure out, “We spent all that money on COVID. Where else can we save?” They are still in the business at the end of the day. They are trying to look at their balance sheet and say, “Where can we cut some costs at this point?” This is what is being translated down to us now as practice owners and PTs.
Since you brought it up, there are two things that owners are looking to do differently. Some of it is out of necessity, but some of it is because they learned their lessons. Number one, recruiting for PTs in general. They have to get better at recruiting PTs. It used to be Craigslist. Now, it is Indeed or ZipRecruiter. They would throw an ad, get a few resumes, and then go from there.
Now, they have to be active agents if they are going to recruit top people probably because people are leaving the industry or they are looking for something better. They want a better work-life balance. They want something different or a more amenable owner. Maybe benefits are more important for them. Actively recruiting as an owner is something that we have not had to do much of before and learn how to recruit.
The second thing is we’ve got to find a way to attract patients without relying on physician referral. The pandemic has simply forced the hand of PTs to consider their marketing and their efforts to get patients in the door and to keep them engaged. It used to be we would do some lunches, see some doctors, send out some newsletters to promote the high school basketball team, you name it.
Now, they are actively looking at Facebook and how to utilize social media, blogs or podcasts to get their name and brand out there. We are seeing a different version of marketing than we did prior to the pandemic. It is simply because they have been forced with their hands. Speaking of that, is that what led you to what you are doing now?
Absolutely. It is a great leeway because as someone like myself who is located in New York City, I was looking around and saying, “We are stuck at home. There was nothing we can do.” The mandate was changed probably two months later where they were like, “PT is now an essential service.” In the beginning, it was only essential workers. We were like, “Do we fall under essential?” There were no guidelines. We didn’t know. In that time frame, I started thinking. I was like, “What is the next thing that will happen?” I started looking and like most people, we have plenty of time to hang out at the computer and look at things.
A good friend of mine who was in the industry years ago but now is in software showed me a lot of stuff about what they do with 3D movement or 3D capture and said, “This is what is happening.” I got super interested and said, “This is interesting.” They were using this technology in Europe saying, “We are using this mostly for corporations.” The corporations are using it because they want to see how healthy their employees are or if there is an injury coming up or, “Can we lower the insurance costs if we show that our employees are healthier?” It was one of those things.
I approached him and said, “Why aren’t you in the US with this?” He goes, “There is no reason. We never got to that point.” I said, “If it is something you want to get to, I would love to spearhead the US.” I would love to take a crack at this and say, “How can we bring this?” My only condition was I would love to bring it to the clinicians first. You need a clinician to say, “This is the medical sound advice. This is what we see. This is what our job is based on.” As physical therapists, we are movement specialists.
It was an easy marriage of two great concepts. I was like, “It is a great tool. How do we bring this to the US?” That was stage one. In stage two, I had to figure out, “How do we use this in the clinics? How do we introduce it to providers? How do we introduce it to our patients?” The good news is I had a testing ground. I had a couple of clinics that I own myself. I said, “Let’s test it out in my own clinics.” I had to come up with the marketing, distributing and every aspect of it to say okay.
Even my own PTs had a hard time adopting this because they were like, “Joe, when do I add this in? Do I do it before or after the eval? Do I do it the next day? Do you want to do it one time as a promo? What are we doing here?” That was the way we got to do the 3D movement scans. It is one of those things and I will be happy to explain more about it.
Tell us a little bit about what the software is and what it does for an owner, especially for what it does for a patient and PT.
It is a portable 3D movement scanner. It could be done in the clinic or any room. You can do it in a gym, hospital or anywhere you want.
Can you do it in a community event like taking it to a booth?
You can do it at a booth. I have done trade shows already. I will explain my conversion to a trade show, which was amazing. We do trade shows. There are so many applications of where you can do it. The best part about it is it is completed in under ten minutes. With the scan, all it does is it looks at a patient and takes them through six exercises. It gets a full picture of the human body going through a movement. If you look at a lot of the posture scans that are out there, it is all static. It is based on weight shift and all that stuff, but the person is not moving. The data is a little bit like, “We don’t know.”
What is different with this is we are looking at the actual movements. When we look at somebody squatting, we are tracking the squat. We are seeing the shifts. The human eye is only so good. If you are trained in FMS and if you have been practicing as many years as we have, we see a patient and we know that knee is dropping a little bit. How many patients have we looked at and said, “I think I see it?” If we see it, we think it is very obvious. We have the eye for it.
What is great about this is the 3D camera picks up from every angle. The science is way over my head on this. It is so cool that you can move the avatar around. You can look at it from different angles and say, “Look at that from the side, top to bottom.” If you and I are looking at somebody, we are looking at them straight on. The camera is catching from top to bottom, bottom to top, and left to right. The human eye can’t do this. I’m like, “This is amazing.”
It is something that is used very quickly. I believe that technology is disrupting PT in the future. The future is now. I was telling somebody on the phone. I was like, “This is the first AI technology in physical therapy. It is gathering so much data because it is looking at somebody in New York doing a squat and then it looks at somebody all the way in Texas doing a squat. They look at that age group.” It is taking all that data and starting to say like, “This person weighs this much. This person walks to work every day. This person drives to work every day.”
It is calculating everything. It starts keeping out these reports. As a PT, we can read it. We train them to read the report. There is a shorter version and there is a much longer version. The shorter version is cool because that is what the patient gets. It is a one-pager. It gives them red is bad, green is good stuff. Most of my PTs are reading as well because I’m like, “I’m not going to read that eight-page report next to a one-page.”
It is the patient themselves. We have been using it for about a year. The adoption of a patient to their plan of care or to pay their deductible or whatever it is has been an all-time high because they see the avatar. It is no longer me telling them, “Janice, your knee is dropping in. Would you do a squat?”
It is no longer Joe the PT saying it. Now, it is the computer and camera itself telling, “This is what is happening to you. When you come down, your knee is going in. That red arrow means it is bad. It could be predictive of a meniscus tear or a possible ACL injury.” The patient looks at that and goes, “That is pretty bad. How do I fix that?” Those are the most common words we get out of a patient’s mouth, “At this point, how do we fix it?” That is music to our ears because that is what we do best as specialists.
That is the beauty also of diagnostic ultrasound. I know those providers that are using diagnostic ultrasound and MSK US in their practices. When they can get an objective picture, it is the beauty of X-rays and MRIs. It is human nature to see something objective and not have to rely on someone’s eyes or opinion.
You can buy into that like, “There is a problem right there. I see it. That is it. What do I need to do to fix it?” That is the phrase that usually comes up. I can understand how providing this movement assessment or diagnostics of movement through a 3D scan can improve buy-in and engagement with the patient to their plan of care. Considering that, do you see particular statistics that have changed significantly because of this? Can you name any?Reactivation is the easiest form of marketing. Click To Tweet
I will give you a very simple one. We have it seen over and over again. It is getting the posture done. It does muscle imbalances and then the AI is predicting the future injuries. Those are the three main features. When we explain it to a patient, another provider or a physician, we say, “These are the main things we are looking at.” Let’s tackle the posture first because that is the easiest one. Let’s say you have a sixteen-year-old kid that comes in. The kid is a football player. He is in super great shape. He is coming in probably for a shoulder or knee. I said, “Let’s scan you. Let’s see where you are at and see how that knee is doing, and anything else that we can find.”
That sixteen-year-old has nothing wrong with him physically. It probably was a tweak somewhere. It does a scan. It is completely perfect. It gets done in ten minutes. We are like, “Let’s read the report.” We look at the report and we see the neck. The degree of the neck is 16 degrees forward with an 8-degree tilt. When you are looking at that, you are like, “Oh my God.” They say anything over 2 degrees will trigger headaches, dizziness and stuff like that. Now, you are saying, “This kid is at 16 degrees. Why is your head so far forward? Why is it tilted so far down?”
You look at this kid when he is on the table getting ice. You see him like this the entire time because he is looking at his phone. You see this is the entire generation. That is all of us too. That same kid who is coming in for his knee would probably only stay for 3 or 4 visits because he would say, “Mom, I feel good. I’m not going to come anymore.” We go back to the mom and say, “Mrs. Jones, his knee is going to feel great, but we want to address his neck. The posture looks bad. We want to make sure we fix that. We can concentrate on the knee first. We can make sure we take care of that, but we also want to make sure that we get his neck fixed as well.”
Little Jimmy there is saying, “I don’t want to have a hump in my back. How do I fix that? This is horrible. I didn’t know it was that bad.” You don’t see yourself from the side. You don’t see how far your head is forward. You don’t see that. It is a huge thing we are patching as well. That’s a simple thing for patient compliance and they stay for their visits. If a PT goes, “This is going to take me four weeks before we do a rescan,” that patient is staying for the entire length of stay.
Your patient is getting better instead of them saying, “I feel a little better. I’m going to drop off because the copay is too high.” They are staying for the entire length of the visit. They get better and then they say, “It is working. I fixed my posture and knee.” You are grabbing all of the diagnoses and the other things that you have been working with that client. This has been a big difference that we saw in the clinics that we have partnered with that are using the scanner. Patients see that muscle imbalance and they are like, “How do I fix it?” It is usually away from the spot of injury, surgery or whatever it may be. They may be coming in for a low back issue, but we catch a shoulder issue. They may be coming in for an ankle issue and then we catch a knee issue.
They are not even aware of it or they did not tell the PT that they have these other issues. When I used to treat, I remember somebody would come in with plantar fasciitis. I would be treating them 5 or 6 sessions in before I find out that they had a hip injury two years ago on the other side. I’m like, “That might be a reason you ended up with plantar fasciitis. Why didn’t you tell me that?” “I didn’t think it was important.” That is six sessions already in. It is one of those things that we are catching it the day of the evaluation.
In your own clinics, are you seeing better engagement statistics, whether it is episodes per plan of care, reactivation of patients, maybe a minimized cancellation rate, or frequency per week is improved? Are there certain engagement statistics that you are seeing improving?
It is all of that. I’m going to take it one by one. The retention number is the number we track to see how long a patient stays with us. Across the country, I remember PPS did a study. It came back and the number was eight. We would know better. We were only at nine. We started implementing the scanner and we said, “This is the plan of care.” We moved that number from 9 to 16 in one month because now the patient was staying. They were staying because we would say, “Your rescan is going to be in six weeks.” It is 2 or 3 times a week or whatever they molded it up to.
They went from 9 sessions to 16 sessions. That seven extra sessions go to profit automatically because that goes to the bottom line. You are not doing any more marketing for that person. You are keeping that person. That was a huge one. Reactivation has been something. This is a marketing thing that I have been telling everyone for my entire career like, “This is the easiest form of marketing you can do. Speak to your old patients and get them back in. It is very easy.” The lifetime value increases when you can get those patients back in. That might be a postcard, Facebook, or whatever marketing tactic you can think of to reactivate your old patient.
This is something different because now we are saying, “We have something different for you to experience. Come on in. It is a ten-minute 3D movement scan.” There are a couple of reasons. Because it is so new, the patients that already know, like and trust you are like, “This is cool. You guys are doing something brand new. I want to come in.” You have that population that comes in, then you have the population that comes in and goes, “I want to see what this is all about. I have heard it from Mary, John, or whoever. I want to check this out.” Some people come out of the blue who have nothing to do with their reactivation. Maybe the postcard went to the wrong house. They are like, “I got this random postcard in the mail,” and they show up. I have never seen a conversion like this before.
No matter how many years I have done marketing, it is always about the messaging. PT is not sexy. It is not something I’m like, “We are going to bring in a bunch of people.” They come in for a pain point. This is different. I’m not talking about a pain point. We are talking about real health care, avoiding being injured, and predicting an injury. It is that concept of health care versus sick care. People that understand that get a whole other group of people that come in on that reactivation campaign. That has been huge for us.
The last part we talked about with everyone is the referral numbers. Word-of-mouth referral is every PT clinic. Every PT clinic taps on how great they are at word-of-mouth referral. I’m not a big fan of word-of-mouth referrals. I tell my colleagues. I’m like, “Word of mouth is good. You should get that automatically, but we should put some marketing behind it. It will make it much better.” We changed that without scripting. I said, “Let’s rely on word of mouth.” We can do this every day.
My staff has the scripting perfectly done at this point. They scan somebody and then they say, “Would your husband, wife, or son want to get scanned as well? We can scan them later. It is ten minutes.” It works like a charm because people say, “My husband would love this. Can you get him in later?” I’m like, “Yes, it is ten minutes. It is not an appointment. We don’t need a whole 30 minutes or 1 hour for that person.” It is not even the PT doing the scan. It is your tech or your admin. It is anyone else that is in the clinic that can say, “I will send them up the scan.”
This is how we level the authority of the PT. Just like the MRI. We don’t say, “The tech is not reading the scan.” It is like, “The doctor will read your scan on your next visit.” The report is completed. The tech, admin or aide is like, “The PT or the doctor is going to read this report for you and get back to you.” What happens if Mrs. Jones is there? I’m like, “I have got your husband’s results. I want to go over the stuff with him. Can I give him a call?” “Absolutely. Give him a call or I’m going to make him come in to pick it up today.”
Just like that, we went from 1 patient to 2 patients automatically. It decreased my marketing costs because I’m not spending as much anymore because I’m pulling in a family member. I’m pulling in a coworker almost immediately because they see and like it. They see the results for themselves and then they start thinking immediately like, “Who could benefit?” It is always an immediate family member or somebody that is playing a sport.
You can see a lot of applications through it. You talked a lot about engagement and getting word-of-mouth referrals. You are getting past patients to come in to check out the free assessment. I want to talk about that a little bit, whether it is free or you might recommend charging a little bit for it. I can easily see taking something like this to a gym, especially like a CrossFit box. They would eat it up alive. Taking it to the trade shows like you are talking about, whatever booth you might have, to give free movement assessments would be great instead of using the massage table, massage chair or whatever the PTs do.
Nathan, you and I think alike. It is amazing because everything you said, we have done already. I’m going to give you some stats on this. Let me start with the trade show first because I have never seen this one before. When I say trade show, you can think of a health fair as the same thing. We did a convention. It was the statewide teacher’s convention here in New Jersey. They had about 1,200 to 1,500 teachers there. It was a massive convention center.
We had a tiny little booth next to three other PT practices and a podiatrist. The other PTs were doing massages. One PT had a bunch of stuff on the table. He was handing stuff out. That person was like, “This is more about branding. I’m not going to do anything. They are going to grab some stuff off the table and that is it.” The other two PTs were working, busting their butts, and giving out messages to everybody. Don’t get me wrong. They had a line but their PTs were destroyed. It was a lot of humans. By 1:00 in the afternoon, they were exhausted. They took a two-hour lunch. They were like, “This is done.”
We were scanning people. I had two people there with me. One person was there to explain it to people. We were getting them in and scanning them. We scanned 93 teachers in two days. We had these ten-minute scans and we were cranking them out. It was pretty fast and then we would email them their results. Since we had a little bit of time, we explained to them quickly, “These are the things that we found. Here is the closest clinic to you or if you are interested in virtual PT, we can do virtual PT if you don’t live close by.” We gave them a couple of different options.
We converted 3 out of 4 of those lead prospects into patients. I have never seen a conversion like this in my life because the average conversion on something like this is less than 2%. We were converting at 75% because those people were seeing something and they were like, “How do I fix this?” It is the most common line. We were like, “It will take you a couple of sessions and some don’t have anything too bad. It is a lot of postural issues or a ton of knee issues.” We had knee and posture all day.
We were saying the same thing over and over again like, “You can fix this with PT. A lot of it could be done virtually.” We signed up a ton virtually. Many people were added from one event. It was a two-day event, but we added a ton of people. That was the big win. The CrossFit box is amazing. We teamed up with a local CrossFit. They had a big charity event going on. We went in. We took a corner of it. It was slow at first, but then the people started coming over to us. First, the trainers themselves want to check themselves out. They got themselves checked out and they started seeing a lot of muscle imbalances.
Their posture was greater, but their muscle imbalances were extreme. The natural question was, “How should I fix this?” There is a knowledge base that they already have, but what they didn’t understand is what exact movement they should be doing to fix it. It is great with the software that we provide. We provide three apps. One is a scanning app. One is what we call the Lab. We can see the scan and go through it in detail. Lastly, there is something called a Pro where it gives you the exercise to help solve the issues.
You might be a PT that is brand new and you are like, “I don’t know how to fix a cervical issue. I’m a personal trainer that is brand new and I don’t know how to fix a knee valgus. Am I fixing the opposite glute or am I fixing the foot? What am I doing?” There are exercises already loaded up in there that make it a little bit easy. You have your own treatment, but now you have the ability to say, “Let me get some more ideas.”
We had a lot of gyms that day that decided to sign up with us because they were like, “The fact that you give us something to do elevates our standard.” As a personal trainer or CrossFit expert, they were like, “You are giving us some ideas on what exercises we should be able to do.” They were better at selling than PTs. They were selling the scan itself. The PTs that we use, we say, “If you want to charge a copay, charge a copay.” We have one PT that charges up to $150 for the scan itself.Keep everything simple. What we do best as PTs is to get people to move. Click To Tweet
We give it away for free because we know we are getting them in as a patient. It has been working so well at this point. When somebody refers their husband and wife to come in, we don’t even charge them a copay. We are like, “Come on in. Let’s scan you and see what is up.” It is so fluid to us that we know we can convert them. I’m hesitant to say we are batting 100 at this time. We are probably in the high 90s at this rate because we are doing well at those conversions because they are seeing it and then right away, they are doing something with it.
When you make changes like this, it is something that you had to work through in your own clinics. I’m sure you are seeing it as you are implementing it into other clinics. Where is the sticking point? It is not easy for many PTs to change their protocols like, “We are stuck in a system. This is how I do it.” I’m wondering if that is a sticking point some time into implementing this in your clinic that has multiple PTs.
I’m going to share a story with you. In the beginning, when we would sell the equipment, we would say, “We will do a training and we would do that via Zoom.” We were like, “It is easy because it is not that difficult to train somebody.” In one day, we can train the entire staff. We can train the staff, the owner, and everything in one day. It is not a technology or tool that takes 1 year, 2 years or 3 months to learn. It is one day. We are going to show you in one day how to use and implement it. We have weekly follow-ups and it switches over to a monthly follow-up.
Here is the main thing that we saw from those Zooms. We realized that the biggest challenge was that they were unable to adopt it fast enough. The biggest thing that PTs have an issue with is that they look at it as, “I have one more thing to do now besides my notes. I don’t even have time in my eval to do this. You want me to do this now.” They get upset. We went in and we said, “Let’s change from the Zoom to the in-person,” because I want them to see me in-person with my CEO with me. We are both PTs. We are not sales reps. We are not some industry higher-up or anything like that. We are just like you. We work in clinics.
I have worked in clinics worse than them because I’m looking at their clinic like, “This clinic is beautiful compared to the places I used to work at.” I tell them, “We are going to show you exactly how we are using it in our own clinics and how I would use it as a PT myself.” That is how we start every training. We come in and show them like, “This is exactly how we use it.” That is how you are going to get the best results out of it. We pull in the admins, aides, techs, and if they have OTs. Whoever they have, we are pulling everybody.
We train everybody and say, “This should be something dynamic that if one person is busy, the other person could jump in. It is very easy to do. You press a button. You guide your patient through. There might be some issues. We make sure it is safe for the patient. You are checking some basic things.” The moneymaker is what I call the owner. The moneymaker is the scripting. Exactly what you say right after is what you say when you are reading it. When you are reading that scan is so important and how you read that scan to the patient because you don’t want to scare them.
When you see a sheet come out with a lot of red on it, you don’t want to scare the patient and say, “There are all these issues this poor guy has.” You want to break it to him gently and say, “Let’s concentrate on this one thing. Let’s concentrate on that as number two. Let’s get going with that.” The patient appreciates it. The patient is like, “Absolutely. Let’s start with my back first and then you can tackle all the other things that are wrong with me.” A PT that doesn’t know that is going to scare that patient away because the patient is going to be like, “I’m broken. I’m out of here. You can’t fix me.”
That has been huge because I understand the PT’s point of view. I say to them, “I get it. You are busy. You have evals or patients all day long. If you don’t use aides, it is great. You can use your admin who has two minutes. He will get up and scan somebody.” He or she might want to get up from sitting down all day and say, “I would love to scan and talk to this person for a little bit. I might learn more about them.” There are so many different ways.
We have been to about 35 clinics so far. Every clinic is different. Some were so busy that we were like, “You don’t even have time to scan. Maybe this is not the right fit for you.” They were like, “Let’s put it on a new clinic. We are starting up. Let’s build this clinic up.” We look at, “This is a worker’s comp clinic or personal injury clinic. How will it help you?” We look at each clinic and every practice a little differently. We say what the best practices are and we also say, “Is this the right fit for you?”
We have had one clinic. I shared this with you where the clinic was only personal injury, but the attorneys won’t use the report. I said, “I know how much you love AI and you want to implement this, but this is not the best device for your clinic.” I’m looking out for them. I said, “We don’t need to sell. I’m telling you right now. The point here is, this is not something that is going to work for you because the attorneys are telling you they are not going to use it. If they are not using that data and report and your client is coming in, it is great for your client, but do you need it?”
That PT held off and said, “I’m going to hold off for a little bit and see.” They liked it because they were getting a lot more information. It helped the PT to document better because it was looking at everything. It gives you the report. The report has a lot of wording in there. If you are cutting and pasting from the report, it makes life a little bit easier. We caution certain therapists like, “This will work. This is not going to work.” PT and chiros have been using this. It has been very successful so far for everyone.
I don’t know the regulations too well. Is it billable as a functional assessment? Can you charge a unit for it?
You can bill it. We all know if you get paid for something like that, it is very low. We got a chance in charging a copay for it and collect that $20 to $30, and wait for that one code to go by, or you roll it into your evaluation and say, “This is part of my evaluation.” For every PT owner here, this is for the owners mainly. When it is rolled into the evaluation, it is bringing up the value of what you are delivering. If you are in that work and that patient says, “You do something different than the PT down the street,” they will stay with you.
If you do this versus the big hospital chains in the Midwest, they compete against the giant hospital chains, which is different. It is an impulsive country. The fact that the big hospital doesn’t have this and you have this, you are going to get a lot more patients who want this. They might say, “This is the reason I’m staying with you.” That is the big takeaway. You can’t fight a doctor that is going to say, “I have to only send you to the hospital.” What you can do is you can advertise this and patients will come to you directly. On top of that, we have gone to the physicians themselves.
We all know this as PTs. For years, we had to go to the physicians. This is the first time in our career that the physicians are coming to us because this is something new and exciting that they are coming to us to look at it themselves and check it out. They say, “This is great.” How many surgeons do you know that aren’t into some type of technology or AI? They are all into it. They love this stuff. This is very different. Even if they managed to send it to the hospital themselves, they are looking at different ways of working together or trying to figure out how you can bring the scanner to the hospital. There are many ways you can win on this. That is the takeaway from this.
Are there certain owners that you found as you are implementing it that are in better situations than others to make this successful? The most successful owners that are working with you at this time, do you see a trend as to where they are in their ownership journey in terms of maybe treating full-time versus not or having a leadership team in place or not? Are there certain characteristics about owners that have made some more successful than others?
It is probably not what you think. It is the owners that are still treating. If they are treating full-time or part-time, these are the ones that have made this the most successful. The number one reason is they implement it before their staff is implementing it. They champion their staff to use it. In 30 days, the entire staff is using it. The clinics that have the owners hands-on the ground involved that are there all the time make a huge difference. There is a flip side to this though. We have met now clinics where the owner is not that involved. They have abdicated more than delegated it to a clinic director.
Those clinics are not as successful with it because the clinic director doesn’t know all aspects of the business. They understand the treatment side of it very well. They maybe understand the billing side well, but they don’t understand all the other circles in the business or all the other factors that affect the day-to-day. It is a big thing that I have been seeing now with some clinics where some owners have delegated it to a clinic director.
The ones that are the most successful are the owners that are very hands-on and involved in it at least for 30 days. If you get this up and running for 30 days and your staff adopts it, you will be surprised at how it becomes second nature for them to use it. The ones that are not doing well with it are probably the ones that are like, “Here is this new device or toy. Let me drop it in the clinic. You guys take care of it and I’m going to do something else.”
Those clinic owners, I say the same thing to them when I was doing the marketing and consulting. I said, “I don’t know your clinic as well as you know your clinic. I’m a PT. You are a PT. I could write great ads and marketing for you, but it is not in your voice. If you don’t know your own clinic or if you don’t participate in this, we will never be able to be as successful as the owners that I work with that have their own voice. They have their own way of presenting their clinic.”
Those are the ones from years past that we made tons of money with because they were the ones that got so many patients coming in because it was in their voice. I was the guide. I guided them in the right direction and said, “Let’s do a little bit more of this. Let’s look at this.” I was able to look at the data. It is very different but it is the same exact thing.
Inherently, those owners that are still treating full-time or part-time have not codified it, but they have a natural implementation program in that, “I’m going to figure this out myself first and see how it works, what the benefits are, and how my patients would react and respond. It is easy for me then to train the other PTs and get it ingrained and implement it.” Whereas those owners who are not there or not as present need to be a little bit more intentional about the implementation program and how it is going to be rolled out so the water gets to the end of the row.
They need to probably get some buy-in from the lead PT or the clinic director. Maybe they start small. Have you seen some owners do that where they start with, “Only Joe’s patients are going to get this right now so we can work out the kinks? Once Joe gets it grooved in, then we are going to roll it out to the rest of the clinics, get some training to learn the words to use and how to implement them into the program, and make it part of our protocols in a seamless basis.” Have you seen owners do that?
We have seen the multi-clinic owners. The way they do it now is they start in one clinic or even two clinics. They will buy one unit and share it between two clinics. They have not narrowed it down to per PT. If they have 4 or 5 locations, they say, “I want to test it out in this one location.” We say, “Okay.” The ones that we always shock are the ones that already have one clinic and it is super busy. They start the second clinic and it is not busy. I tell them and they are like, “I’m going to put in my busy clinic.” I say, “How about this? Let’s put in the slow clinic. Let’s start it in the slow clinic. Give it 30 days. Let’s have that PT use it.” Because he is a little slower, he will be able to spend more time. Guess what happens? He is going to build such a following.
The differentiation factor is so different that they are pulling in patients left and right in this new area and the new doctors that they have to meet. The doctors are coming and checking out this new clinic. It is brand new and they are saying, “There’s the new PT in there. We would love to check this out. You have this 3D movement scanner. What is this all about?” When they start a new clinic, it doesn’t matter if you are on clinic number 3, 5 or 6. When you start that clinic, you and I both know it takes a little bit to get it up and running. You have to crank that wheel a bit.There's an expense to everything. But here's the thing... Some things are costs while other things are investments that give you a return. Click To Tweet
We don’t see a return on investment for probably about eighteen months or so, but this is now speeding up the process because of what is happening. You are getting more patients into the funnel and practice way earlier than you would do in a traditional practice. I’m not there yet. I’m testing it out in two clinics. I want to do a study of two clinics that start at the same time, one without it and one with it, and see like, “If we have run it for eighteen months or even less, what is the growth rate of it?” That would be great to see. I’m going to put something like that together with my presentation.
What is great about this is everyone is open. A lot of my partners are open with their data and results. They look at it and I tell everybody. I’m like, “I know we are PTs and I know we are in medical. We want to look at the science behind it, but if we remove all of that and look at it in a way that without all the science, the patients love it. They stick to their plan of care and you are getting a lot more people to come in. If you look at the very basic concept of it, you get to do what you are good at, which is being a PT, and they get better.”
I said, “Cut all their layers off. Don’t overthink this. I know PTs, we overthink at times. Don’t overthink it. Keep it very simple. What do we do best? We get people to move.” This is being able to say, “I can shorten your evaluation. Your eval is now much shorter than it was before.” This is where I see it going. It is one of the things that I brought up in the beginning, especially during COVID. I realized if you don’t have all the people coming into a clinic and in the future, you are going to have less and less because they are going to be working from home. They are going to be traveling or they don’t have to come to the office or whatever it is. How can we deliver that care to them?
This technology is only going to get better. It is going to get to the point where it will get to your phone and you will be able to do it from your phone. It is not there yet because the camera in your phone is not there yet, but it is going to happen. We know it is going to happen in 2 or 3 years. The camera on your phone is better than the camera I bought years ago. I see it happening and that is what I’m going to tell PTs. I’m like, “You want to jump on it earlier than later because this is something where if you get adoption with your staff now, that is one thing.”
As technology increases, it is going to be that way for a patient to do it from home. You also want to be the PT that is able to read these reports and understand them. For those nonclinical PTs out there, I shared it with them and it is the same thing. You want to be able to read these reports and learn how to use them. The clinic owner who purchases and brings it in will be the one to train you. You will now have a reason to stay at that job because it is going to be something different from what you were doing before. It is not the same old PT. It is very interesting.
We have covered a number of great things. Thanks for your time. We are talking about the 3D movement scanner that you are promoting. To look back on parts of our conversation, what are you doing now to keep your patients engaged, whether it is this 3D movement scanner or something else? What are you doing to implement new programs so that they stick and stay in place? What are you doing to market to the community? Are you the massage chair or the gift giver? What are you doing to promote at some of the events? How are you getting some of those past patients back in? If you have multiple clinics, how are you looking at your slow clinics? Are you trying to do new things? Are you tracking the statistics to see if those new things make a significant difference?
During the course of our conversation, we are talking about your 3D movement scanner and how it can disrupt physical therapy and how it is a trend towards the future. As cameras get better and as apps improve, people will eventually probably be able to buy some kind of package like this, set it up in their house, do it themselves, and get their own reports. That is probably a few years down the line. Are you a part of the future of health care and physical therapy? What are you doing so you are not staying static, regressing, and doing the same old same old? There are a number of things that we touched that I hope owners take away. It is not just about using the scanner. Hopefully, you are considering aspects of your business that you need to improve. This is just one way of doing that.
One of the biggest questions I get right away, they love the data and everything, they look at it and say, “How expensive is it?” They are like, “Is it that expensive? Is it like buying the old Eastern machines for $15,000 or $20,000 or whatever is that?” That is why I address it and I give them this one answer. This will help you understand it. There is an expense to everything, but here is the thing. Some things are costs and some things are investments. Investment is your return. You are going to get a return on it. A cost is you are not going to get that return.
If you buy some TheraBand, which is the cheapest thing I can think of, it is a cost of doing business. You throw it in there. You look at the expensive machines. I don’t want to name any expensive machines, but some machines are so expensive. People buy it and it sits in the clinic. It may be a treadmill, water tank or oxygen tank. You name it. It has been out there. It sits there and it is not used as much. I still classify it as a cost. People try to challenge me and say, “That is an investment.” I’m like, “Is it used on every patient? Are you getting your money back? How are you getting your money back on it? Are you getting referrals from it? Are they staying longer?” I show them all of that.
When I do a presentation with somebody, I break down the money that you can make from it within the first 30 days based on the current patients you have without doing any extra marketing. I tell people all the time. I’m like, “The expense or the investment is the way you look at it, but it is also what I can guarantee that you will make your money back every month on that investment.” I invite people to do a discovery call with me. We have a full webinar that I’m sure you have seen as well that they can walk through and they can see everything about it.
It is one of those that we walk them through. We explain it to them and then we say, “This is all that I can do and we have a guarantee on top of it.” We have a 60-day money-back guarantee because we know that if you can’t make money with us in 60 days, we are in the wrong clinic. We are like, “We will give you your money back and that is it. We will take the equipment back. We call it even.” You can look at it and say, “How can you give us our money back and walk away?” We are like, “We know that it works. That is how simple it is. I know that if you use it on patients and you follow the scripting, the staff has to adopt it. Once that happens, it is used on everybody. Every patient that walks in that front door, you will use it on.”
Have you found those clinics that do use FMS a lot accepted this more or are they more hesitant? Have you come up against that?
It is not to knock the clinician. The older the clinician is, they still feel like they can do it themselves. They don’t need it. They are like, “I can do this. Why do I need a computer doing it when I can do it?” I will be honest. From what we have seen, it is an age thing. The older the person is, they are like, “I can do it myself.” It is fewer PTs and more personal trainers. It has been a very interesting thing. Every PT I have spoken to looks at this and says, “This is amazing.”
They have seen the demo and as soon as you stand there, you get your whole body scanned, that is the a-ha moment. It is what we call it because they all are like, “This is pretty cool.” The PT is not as much as a personal trainer that is training with an FMS. It is different. Any clinic that is working with active individuals population-wise, you are going to be using this. There is a safety feature on this. For anybody over the age of 50, it will ask them to see if they are safe or if they have the balance. If they can’t do it, there is an easy mode on it that they can try to do. If they still can’t do it, we tell them, “Don’t do it.” If they are not safe, don’t do it.
How do people get a hold of you, Joe?
There are a couple of different ways. I’m very active on LinkedIn. You can type in Joseph Simon on LinkedIn. I’m on Instagram as well @Dr_Joe_Simon. You can email me at Joe@3DMDiagnostics.com. Any of those ways if you find me, I will be more than happy to send you a link for our demo. You can take a look at it. After the demo, if you want to chat on the phone and see how it will work in your clinic, I’m more than happy to.
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it, Joe.
Nathan, thank you so much. This has always been fun.
- 3DM Diagnostics
- Successful Marketing Tips During A Crisis With Dr. Joe Simon – Apple Podcasts
- Joseph Simon – LinkedIn
- @Dr_Joe_Simon – Instagram
About Dr. Joe Simon
Dr Joe Simon has been a private practice owner since 2005. He has not only survived the 2008 recession, but expanded during that time period. In 2012, during hurricane Sandy, he lost one of his clinics and his home. Yet again he pushed forward and grew his clinics. During this time, other practitioners took notice and asked for his guidance, coaching and consulting. This resulted in the founding of the Private Practice Business Academy.
Dr Joe is an owner and partner in multiple (out of network) medical and wellness clinics, including a video marketing and leadership training companies. Currently he acts as CEO of 3DM Diagnostics, leveraging 3D technology to enhance patient care, engagement, retention, and PT clinic promotion.