• 6 Ways to Increase Patient Engagement and Prevent Cancellations

    February 6, 2021 | Ed Hershman
  • Patient engagement is crucial to managing your physical therapy clinic. A high-quality clinic not only manages patients with good therapy, but does so with good business practice. Be diligent with both aspects, and you’ll reap tremendous dividends for your patients and your bottom line. Neglecting to increase patient engagement, on the other hand, results in cancellations.

    Why patient engagement is important

    Patient engagement in physical therapy is multifaceted. The single biggest insult to a patient’s progress in therapy and to the financial health of your clinic is appointment cancellations. When a patient cancels an appointment, it sets back their progress toward their goal in therapy and causes the clinic tremendous financial harm. Your greatest concern as you examine your clinic costs should be your cancellation (Cx) rate. If your Cx rate is over 10%, you are not managing your clinic efficiently. No other financial insult trumps this for a physical therapy clinic. Every time a patient cancels, the clinic gleans no revenue for that hour, but you still incur the cost of therapy. Your net loss for one cancellation could be over $200. This is why an extended period of a high Cx rate can be remarkably detrimental to your clinic’s financial picture.

    From the standpoint of efficacy and commitment, cancellations prevent your patients from progressing through their therapy regimen. As a professional, your commitment to your patient’s progress in large part relies on them showing up on time for all appointments. Your impressing this upon them is of paramount importance.

    Preventing cancellations and maximizing engagement

    By engaging your patients in a manner apropos of the efficient management of your clinic, you can accomplish all of the above. Here are the six crucial best practices to increasing patient engagement and buy-in on your program.

    1.  Do not overschedule your therapists.

    This is tempting to do when you consider the net loss for a cancellation. Do not fall prey to this temptation. From patients feeling slighted to bad reviews, this will backfire when it comes to your bottom line.

    2.  Purvey confidence to your patient.

    It his human nature, even in our subconscious, to put our full faith in an expert when they are truly confident.

    3.  Instruct your patients on the fundamentals of rehab.

    Don’t assume they know what seems obvious to you.

    4.  Involve the patient in their therapy.

    Do so with interaction and by provoking a response. This isn’t about small talk, although that certainly contributes to building a relationship. This is about talking with the patient about what is happening throughout the therapy session and getting their feedback.

    5.  Compliment and enforce the patient’s accomplishments.

    Every time a goal is reached, or a measurable step toward a goal, call it out. This includes a patient showing up on time for their appointment. This demonstrates they are focused on and continue to progress toward the next goal, so call this out to them.

    6.  Establish mutually agreed upon goals for the patient.

    Direct all future care toward accomplishing those goals. For example, you might say,

    “In order to reach your goals, it is imperative that you do not miss a single appointment. Missing an appointment sets you farther back from accomplishing the goals you want to meet and exceed. Can we agree to all of your goals, including your attendance goal?”

    Staying committed to these six best practices will increase patient engagement, lead to the patient’s full rehab, and maintain your clinic’s financial well-being.