Market Focus: Physical Therapists
Physical therapists teach patients how to conduct at-home therapy and how to use such adaptive devices as software, crutches, prostheses and wheelchairs. Therapists also help patients work around changes in physical function and/or form to improve quality of life at home and at work.
Physical therapists purchase a wide range of equipment, such as therapeutic tables, electrical stimulation, ultrasound machines, and hot and cold packs/compresses. They also purchase diagnostic and exercise equipment, materials used in patient exams, tables, and mats. They purchase mobility equipment, grab bars, adaptive equipment for beds, and such assistive devices as transfer boards, dressing and grooming aides.
Tepper says, “In PT Magazine, we have a mix of advertisers ranging from specific equipment, a good representation of software providers and employment agencies. We also have niche areas, such as manufacturers of aquatic therapy to things a [physical therapist] would use every day, such as stretching bands and orthotics.”
On the business side, practitioners buy insurance, outer office equipment and general office supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Jody Rich, group publisher for the Los Angeles–based Physical Therapy Products magazine, says, “Products that help physical therapists run their office efficiently”—such as pain management products, business software products and business management services—are among some of the most populous advertisers in her publication.
According to a 2007 Global Industry Analysts study, Wound Care Products—A Global Strategic Business Report, the wound care products market is expected to reach $15.3 billion in annual sales by 2010. In addition, the market for compression therapy and beds for wound care/burn care was valued at about $1.1 billion in 2005, with that number expected to grow to $1.6 billion in 2014, according to U.S. Markets for Compression Therapy and Pressure Reduction/Relief Products, a report from Medtech Insight.
Avoid Mixed Messages
Tepper asserts that it’s important to make sure advertising copy is “written for physical therapists, as opposed to a generic description designed for physicians [and] then rewritten for physical therapists.” He says that while “marketers and advertisers may worry about slicing it too thin, physical therapy is becoming increasingly more specific and specialized. It is important for marketers to realize there is a difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy, and to recognize physical therapy is a very distinct profession.” He also recommends choosing a message that is clear, direct and details product benefits—not only for physical therapists, but also for their patients. “Pretty pictures of a piece of equipment without details about how it will really benefit the practice or patient are largely worthless,” Tepper explains. “Include specific information, because the best marketing is an e-mail or direct mail piece people want to open because they know it contains something of interest to them.”