The 30 Things Patients Value Most: What Every PT Needs to Know

The 30 Things Patients Value Most: What Every PT Needs to Know

As physical therapists, how many times have we heard the phrase “We have to show value of our services”?

The word “value” is likely said hundreds of times at annual conferences and echoed throughout PT school classrooms. But do we actually have a deep understanding of this term?

A detailed understanding of what your patients truly value is crucial—it can improve everything from your marketing efforts and patient communication to business operations and more.

Beyond your patients’ immediate goals like pain relief or athletic achievements lie deeper layers of values essential for exceptional care. Uncovering and instilling these values into your business can unlock a new level of patient satisfaction.

At MovementX, originally inspired by a model from the Harvard Business Review, we’ve outlined a comprehensive hierarchy of patient values, ranging from basic functional needs to transformative self-actualization. This pyramid is what your patients truly care about.


A pyramid hierarchy of patient values for MovementX physical therapists in four tiers. From the bottom, functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact.


In general, the more values you can speak to and address in your business, the more successful you will be. Sure, any two patients may not weigh a particular element equally, but these basic building blocks are backed up by over 30 years of consumer research, according to HBR.

In our experience at MovementX, we’ve witnessed the profound impact of aligning our business around these values. We’ve seen the profound joy in patients achieving their goals, the deep emotional connections formed, and the sense of belonging fostered through our care. This is more than a theoretical framework; it’s a testament to the transformative power of understanding what our customers are yearning for.

This guide is your compass to navigating the intricate world of patient values in physical therapy. Aligned with MovementX’s ethos of delivering personalized, premium care, it provides vital insights for practitioners at all stages of their careers. Join us in this journey of discovery and elevate your practice by integrating these 30 essential values into your patient interactions and marketing efforts.


MovementX Physical Therapist Dr. Lauren O'Shea PT, DPT treating a patient in a MovementX treatment room.


Tier 1: Functional Values—The Foundation of Care

The foundational first tier of the values pyramid is, “Functional Values,” which forms the bedrock of exceptional patient care. This tier encompasses 14 values that directly impact the practical and fundamental aspects of therapy. Each of these values plays a crucial role in delivering care that is not just effective, but also resonates deeply with the patients’ everyday needs and expectations.

1. Reduces Effort

Embracing the ‘Reduces Effort’ value involves streamlining processes to make the patient journey more manageable, especially the beginning. For example, ensure your online booking system enables quick scheduling, provide clear home exercise programs with minimal confusion, and make digital patient-provider interactions simple and secure. Avoid excessive signup steps and confusing website layouts.

2. Saves Time

By incorporating the ‘Saves Time’ value, therapists not only respect their patients’ schedules, but also maximize the effectiveness of each session. This involves ensuring punctual appointments, streamlining clinic procedures, and evidence-based treatment. Utilizing telehealth or in-home care options can also be a big draw.

3. Less Hassle

Very similar to reducing effort, practicing with this value in mind means ensuring a seamless and convenient experience. This involves streamlining administrative tasks through digital solutions for paperwork and billing, and providing clear, jargon-free communication about treatments and schedules. Being responsive to patient concerns and offering flexible scheduling are also key to minimizing hassles.

4. Simplifies

Make every aspect of the patient experience straightforward and easy to navigate. Providing patients with easy-to-understand educational resources and communicating in a professional, clear, and concise way are key strategies. Email communications should feel friendly and personalized, not spammy and overloaded with superfluous information.

5. Reduces Cost

This is a big one, regardless if you are in-network or out-of-network. This starts with transparent pricing, effective treatment plans, and no surprise bills. It also requires robust cost-related FAQ information, insurance assistance, and flexible payment options. By implementing these strategies, physical therapists can make their services more financially accessible, ensuring that cost does not become a barrier to receiving exceptional care.

6. Makes Money

This may not seem most applicable to the PT industry at first, but embodying the ‘Makes Money’ value can set your services apart. This involves speaking to the economic benefits for patients, such as how your effective treatment enables quicker and more robust return-to-work outcomes, or emphasizing the importance of preventative care. Additionally, collaborating with employers to implement employee wellness programs can yield significant benefits.

7. Quality

In physical therapy, the value of ‘Quality’ is paramount. Quality in this context is multi-dimensional, encompassing the caliber of treatments, the expertise of therapists, and the overall patient experience. Use evidence-based practices that solve your patients’ biggest problems, invest in your own professional development, and deliver 1-on-1 care for a full 60 minutes (the standard at MovementX). This commitment to quality reinforces the core values of the physical therapy profession.

8. Reduces Risk

This value is in lock-step with quality and involves adopting practices and protocols that maximize safety while minimizing the risk of injury or complications. Whereas a competitor or another option for care may not guarantee your patient meets their goal, you’ll strive to live up to the promise that you will get the job done.

9. Organizes

Physical therapists can embody this value through well-defined treatment plans, meticulous patient record management, and clear communication strategies. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your patients’ meaningful milestones or other notable achievements along the way. A structured approach not only streamlines each session but also instills confidence and understanding in patients.

10. Variety

The ‘Variety’ value in physical therapy plays a significant role in catering to diverse patient needs and preferences, enriching the therapeutic experience. Offer a range of treatment modalities, feature diversity in the patient demographics you serve, and change things up when a patient may seem to start disengaging with a monotonous care plan.

11. Integrates

This emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to patient care, blending various aspects of health and wellness into a cohesive treatment plan. In practice, this means physical therapists should consider not just the specific injury or condition, but also the patient’s overall lifestyle, health habits, and emotional wellbeing. Integration also involves collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nutritionists, or mental health specialists, to ensure all aspects of the patient’s health are addressed.

12. Sensory Appeal

This encompasses creating an inviting therapeutic atmosphere with thoughtful use of design, lighting, and an environment that calms and comforts. Physical therapists can also use a patient’s preferred music or soothing aromatherapy to create a more relaxing ambiance during treatment sessions.

13. Connects

The ‘Connects’ value in relation to physical therapy is about fostering a sense of community and belonging, both within the clinic and beyond. This involves creating an environment where patients feel supported, understood, and part of a larger healing journey. Physical therapists achieve this by building strong, empathetic relationships with each patient, understanding their stories and goals. Additionally, therapists encourage connections among patients, perhaps through group therapy sessions or community events, which can offer mutual support and motivation.

14. Informs

The ‘Informs’ value centers on the power of education to empower patients in their healing journey. By providing comprehensive, accessible information about conditions, treatments, and wellness strategies, physical therapists enable patients to take an active role in their recovery. In the age of information, this educational approach demystifies the therapy process, helping patients understand the rationale behind each exercise and intervention.


MovementX physical therapist Dr. Gwen Smith, PT, DPT treating patient, MovementX physical therapist Dr. Mel Bartlett, PT, DPT in Portland, Oregon.


Tier 2: Emotional Values—Connecting with Patients

The second tier of the values pyramid delves into the deeper, more personal aspects of physical therapy. This tier is where the heart of patient care truly lies, focusing on values that resonate on an emotional level and forge a stronger, more meaningful connection between therapists and patients. Together, these 10 values create a compassionate, engaging, and empowering environment, pivotal for successful therapy outcomes.

15. Wellness

Similar to the ‘Integrates’ value, this value goes beyond mere symptom relief and encompasses a holistic approach to patient health. This value recognizes that optimal wellness is a multifaceted state, involving physical, emotional, and mental health. Physical therapists who prioritize wellness focus on long-term health and lifestyle changes that contribute to overall well being.

16. Reduces Anxiety

This value is crucial in creating a reassuring and supportive treatment environment. Recognizing that many patients come with preconceived anxieties about their health, pain, or the PT process itself, therapists must strive to alleviate these concerns through empathetic communication, clear explanations, and a calming clinic atmosphere. Featuring 5 star reviews, success stories, or other noteworthy testimonials can reassure your patients they’re in the best of hands under your care.

17. Therapeutic Value

Every aspect of care should contribute positively to your patients’ recovery and health. Do your patients leave each session feeling better, more confident, or more empowered? Does each communication touchpoint with them (email, phone call, automated text, etc) speak to the journey they’re embarking on? Do they have everything they need to make further progress in between sessions with you?

18. Rewards Me

All physical therapists should recognize and celebrate their patients’ progress and achievements, no matter how small. This can significantly boost patient motivation and morale. Physical therapists can implement this value by setting achievable goals and providing positive reinforcement upon their completion.

19. Fun/Entertainment

At MovementX, we believe that in order for patients to maximally enjoy their PT experience, their physical therapist must maximally enjoy their job. An empowered PT empowers their patients. Gamified exercises, incorporating music or playful activities into sessions, or using technology like VR or AR can make treatment sessions more interactive and enjoyable.

20. Nostalgia

The ‘Nostalgia’ value taps into the emotional connections that patients have with their past experiences and memories. This unique approach can be especially powerful in working with older adults or those recovering from conditions that have impacted their lifestyle. Therapists can integrate nostalgia by incorporating activities or discussions that resonate with a patient’s past interests or by creating a clinic environment that evokes positive memories and feelings.

21. Attractiveness

The following three values have a lot to do with brand, either your personal brand as a PT or your company’s brand as a business. The ‘Attractiveness’ value relates to the appeal of your clinical setting. Is it clean, well-organized, professional, and intentional? Is it welcoming, comfortable, and unique? This attention to attractiveness not only enhances the patient’s immediate experience but also contributes to their overall impression of the quality and professionalism of the care they receive with you.

22. Design/Aesthetics

At MovementX, every decision around design is aided by our Brand Guidelines. This core document outlines our four Brand Personality Traits—Premium, Positive, Personal, and Purposeful. How can we make our apparel more premium? In what ways can we add more personalization to automated emails? Does this social media campaign have a purposeful strategy? These are questions our design team asks every day.

23. Badge Value

‘Badge Value’ relates to the prestige or esteem associated with receiving care from a particular therapist or clinic. As a PT, you can cultivate badge value by building a strong brand reputation for excellence, specializing in certain sought-after treatments, or being recognized in your community for innovative practices. When patients feel that they are receiving care from a renowned and respected provider, it can enhance their confidence in the treatment and add to their overall satisfaction with the therapy experience.

24. Provides Access

We must all work together to make quality care more accessible to a broad spectrum of patients. Let’s remove barriers to treatment, whether they are physical, financial, or informational. Let’s offer services like in-home care and telehealth, provide flexible payment options, and ensure clinic accessibility for people with disabilities. This approach not only broadens the reach of therapy services but also demonstrates a commitment to serving diverse patient needs, reinforcing the principle of health care as a universal right.


MovementX physical therapist Dr. Rich Ortiz, PT, DPT treating a patient in a MovementX treatment room in Washington, D.C.


Tier 3: Life-Changing Values—Transforming Lives

The third tier of the value pyramid, “Life-Changing Values—Transforming Lives,” represents the profound impact physical therapy can have on a patient’s life beyond mere physical recovery. This tier encapsulates values that contribute to significant, lasting changes in patients’ lives, fostering not just physical healing but personal growth and a renewed sense of purpose. Does your practice include these 5 values?

25. Motivation

Embracing the ‘Motivation’ value in physical therapy involves inspiring and encouraging patients to actively participate in their rehabilitation journey. This value is crucial in helping patients overcome challenges and stay committed to their treatment plans. How can you better guarantee complete and successful plans of care? Set achievable goals, celebrate progress, promote independence, and provide constant positive reinforcement to motivate your patients.

26. Provides Hope

As physical therapists, we are providers of hope. This value revolves around instilling a sense of optimism and possibility, particularly in patients facing long-term or challenging conditions. Providing hope is not about unrealistic promises but about fostering a belief in the potential for improvement and healing. This emotional support can be a powerful driver in a patient’s therapy journey, influencing their resilience and determination to recover.

27. Heirloom

Your patients should carry skills, knowledge, and habits with them long after their therapy sessions with you have ended. Whether it’s mastering a specific exercise technique, adopting healthier postures, or better understanding body mechanics, these ‘heirlooms’ of therapy empower patients to better manage their health. Little rewards for milestones or other special keepsakes like photographs or plaques are good ideas too!

28. Self-Actualization

The ‘Self-Actualization’ value is about helping patients reach their fullest potential, not just in terms of physical health, but in personal development as well. Every day, we help patients overcome limitations, achieve personal goals, and realize their capabilities. Just as a PT enabled me to run without knee pain in our Cross Country State Finals in high school and place 6th with my team, the journey to self-actualization in PT can be deeply personal and profoundly empowering.

29. Affiliation & Belonging

This value emphasizes the importance of creating a sense of community and connection for patients. “These are my people,” “Meg is the best,” or “I just love working with John” are some of the things we hear at MovementX. This involves fostering an environment where patients feel they are part of a supportive network, not just undergoing treatment. This is the power of community.


Tier 4: Social Impact—The Pinnacle of Value

30. Self-Transcendence

Finally, at the pinnacle of the value pyramid is ‘Self-Transcendence’, a value that elevates the role of physical therapy to its most profound level. In this realm, therapy transcends traditional boundaries, going beyond mere physical healing to profoundly impact the overall quality of one’s life. Embodying self-transcendence means therapists are not just facilitating recovery; they are unlocking doors to new possibilities, enabling patients to engage in life with greater joy, purpose, and fulfillment.

This value is about inspiring patients to rediscover passions, pursue new ambitions, and embrace a life enriched by newfound capabilities and confidence. Here, the impact of physical therapy extends into the broader spectrum of what it means to live fully, deeply influencing not just the physical, but also the emotional and spiritual aspects of a patient’s life. In this space, physical therapy becomes a catalyst for a life not just lived, but lived extraordinarily.



Truly understanding what patients value in physical therapy is a journey through this pyramid of needs and desires. From functional necessities to the pinnacle of social impact, each layer adds depth to the patient experience. At MovementX, we embrace every single one of these values, striving to provide care that resonates with the hearts and minds of those we serve.

If you’re a physical therapist who shares these values, we invite you to join our team and be part of a movement that truly makes a difference.


About the Author

Dr. Scott McAfee Physical Therapist with MovementX in Washington, DC

Dr. Scott McAfee is a physical therapist in Washington, DC and Chief Marketing Officer at MovementX. A graduate of both UCLA and USC, he is a residency-trained and board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy. He enjoys helping people of all ages and abilities live happier lives through healthier movement. Request care directly with Dr. McAfee by clicking the link below.

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