What do you do when the marketplace changes to such an extent that the company’s value proposition is no longer as powerful as it once was?
This is the situation in which PTPN, the nation’s premier network of independent rehabilitation practitioners, found itself. Conceived in the early days of managed care, PTPN is the brainchild of Michael Weinper, PT, DPT, MPH, a nationally recognized leader in the field of physical therapy, and Fred Rothenberg, a similarly respected executive in the health plan arena. Recognizing that the trend for health plans to contract with networks of providers would eventually encompass ancillary providers like physical therapists, they created PTPN as a network of rigorously credentialed independent therapy offices that would contract on behalf of its members with national and regional health plans, self-insured employers, and workers’ compensation companies.
The concept was very successful and PTPN grew to become the nation’s largest network of the independently owned offices, providing both a vital revenue stream for its members through its contracting function and high quality care to the patients of these dedicated providers.
Flash forward to the new century. The market was changing. Reimbursements were dropping and managed care plans often offered rates that would not let providers break even. Some large payers were shifting from network contracts to contracting with individual offices. PTPN’s members were struggling with a new set of issues that required new solutions.
On the macro level, PTPN’s leadership its members reliance on insurance-based reimbursement was not a solution if this business increasingly did not pay for itself. PTPN undertook the market and member research to find a new and viable solution.
That solution – which has since become recognized throughout the PT profession – was to build that portion of the patient base that was “cash-pay” versus reimbursement based. Research showed that patients saw their PT as an expert on movement and health through safe physical exercise. As a result, PTPN took a bold move and, in essence, reinvented itself and re-vamped its value position by:
• Creating Physiquality, a new consumer brand that offered a broad variety of cash-pay programs for members to help them build new revenue streams. A new consumer-friendly website, consumer media relations, blog, and social media marketing helped to grow this concept and capture the attention of the consumer.
• Increasing its lobbying profile to increase the voice of PTs in Congress to speak out on the need for adequate reimbursement for these services and other issues key to the profession.
• Emphasizing the value of its discount program for services to save money for members that significantly exceeded the cost of their membership.
• Creating a product line extension, PTPN Nexus, for states that did not have the base of offices to have a formal PTPN network. For a relatively low fee, offices in these states can benefit from PTPN’s services except for the contracting function.
• Launching a free referral and appointment-setting program for workers’ comp carriers and self-insured employers that speeds recovery and return to work for injured workers, reducing healthcare costs.
• Developing the first outcomes program for rehabilitation, giving payers the data they need to monitor network quality [and compare PTPN members with non-members].
• Creating the first of its kind pay-for-outcomes program for PT services, demonstrating to payers that PTPN members produced higher value and better outcomes for less costs, than non-members.
As a result of its insights and innovation, PTPN continues to thrive today in its new incarnation.
Scott Public Relations is privileged to have worked with PTPN for more than 20 years. During this transformative period, we assisted in member research to identify the new value proposition and direction, and helped to launch Physiquality and PTPN Nexus, as well as the new pay-for-performance programs. Congratulations PTPN on being a case study in innovation!
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