Cancellations and no-shows can destroy your practice if you don’t get a handle on them, but luckily there is a simple solution to decreasing your cancellation and no-show rates.
This isn’t just another article about how you need to send your patients appointment reminders, confirm appointments in advance and enforce a cancellation policy. While those steps are important to avoiding cancellations and no-shows, there is something so simple – and powerful – to stop cancellations from destroying your physical therapy practice.
Increase the VALUE of physical therapy! In other words, your patients should fully understand the WHY and the WHAT of their physical therapy… then the WANT to attend therapy will come!
- Why do I need to attend physical therapy?
- Why is it important that I attend all my appointments?
- What do I get out of physical therapy?
Many patients will start skipping or cancelling appointments for a couple of reasons: either they aren’t feeling any better or they are feeling better. As a physical therapist, you understand why the plan of care matters, and it’s important you give them their full POC on day one and manage expectations during their physical therapy journey.
Explaining the Why and What of physical therapy
Your patient may expect to feel better right away, but that won’t always be the case. Talk to this patient about why physical therapy will help him or her get better and that attendance is the only way they will accomplish their goals. Give them an idea of what to expect before, during and after each appointment. Stress the necessity of completing the plan of care to achieve a positive outcome and keep them encouraged along the way if they’re feeling down or experiencing pain.
On the other hand, if you have a patient that starts feeling better right away, help them understand it’s still necessary for him or her to finish the plan of care, otherwise their pain or injury may not heal completely. If they understand the full plan of care will get them back to 100%, they’ll be more likely to continue therapy.
Of course, you also have busy patients, who forget about an appointment or just don’t want to attend because their schedules are full. Treat them the same way you do the patients described above by explaining why a full POC matters and build their ideal therapy schedule. Then they are planning their other activities around their physical therapy, rather than trying to fit therapy in among their activities.
Each patient should have a clear goal in mind related to the completion of their physical therapy plan of care. If your patients have goals related to their physical therapy, they will better understand how to get there and see the value in completing their plan of care to reach their goals. A clear, achievable goal will build the want!
Building the Want-to Attitude
Physical therapy shouldn’t be just a “have to”. Your patients shouldn’t look at their physical therapy appointments just as “something my doctor told me I have to do,” they should be involved in their health and wellness and want to attend therapy to feel better. If they understand the WHY and WHAT, the WANT becomes easy!
No one understands the value of physical therapy better than you, so be sure to communicate that value to all your patients. By placing more value in physical therapy and the full plan of care, you will see less cancellations and better patient outcomes.
To see more helpful tips, check out our latest issue of Successful Outcomes!