Take a look at your schedule for the week, for the month. Do you have gaps? If you do, those gaps may become more frequent as time goes on—unless you find a way to fill them immediately.
If you have gaps in your schedule, it’s likely for the following reasons:
- Appointment cancellations
- Patient churn
- Patients not booking ahead
- Not enough new referrals coming in
You can’t be a successful, growing private practice if you continue to have gaps in your schedule. In order to start filling those gaps, you need solutions to the challenges above and a guarantee that your schedule will be overflowing for the years to come.
How to fill the gaps:
Problem #1: Appointment cancellations
Solution: Appointment cancellations will occur, but you can decrease the amount of cancellations by doing two things: first, make sure your patients stay engaged and excited about their care and second, make sure your front office staff reschedules when a cancellation is made. Your patients are likely to cancel if they aren’t happy with their therapy or if they don’t think they’re getting better, so keep lines of communication open and gather feedback from start to finish. If patients are more engaged and seeing results, they’re not as likely to cancel future appointments.
However, there will be times when schedules conflict and cancellations have to be made. The simplest way to handle those situations is to put a cancellation policy in place and make sure your front desk is rescheduling appointments with those patients right away and following up with appointment reminders.
*Bonus – Do you know what your cancellation rate is? It shouldn’t be an estimate… this is an exact number. FYZICAL clinics follow a 7 step strategy to reduce cancellations.
Problem #2: Patient churn
Solution: Similarly with cancellations, unhappy patients are likely to churn and drop out of therapy all together. According to Strive Labs CEO and Co-Founder Scott Hebert, about 70% of all PT patients end up churning and 20% actually drop out before their fourth visit—costing “the average PT practice upwards of $150,000.” (WebPT)
After determining your customer satisfaction numbers—for example, a Net Promoter Score—you will then be able to identify what could be turning these patients away. Work to improve your patient communication, improve patient experience, engage with patients during, between and after appointments, and be more active and responsive on social media.
Problem #3: Patients not booking ahead
Solution: The easiest way to keep your patients looking forward to their therapy sessions and keep your schedule filled is by booking appointments ahead of time. If your patient comes in for an evaluation and you advise eight more sessions of physical therapy, your front desk staff should be booking those appointments ahead of time with the patient.
Problem #4: Not enough new referrals coming in
Solution: In order to increase your referrals, you must not only work to keep them coming in, but also manage them effectively once they reach you. To get started, you can generate more referrals by building relationships, prioritizing your referral base, providing high quality care and hiring a physician liaison. This blog explains these simple steps in depth.
Rather than sitting around waiting by the fax machine for referrals, did you know you can actually flood your practice with referrals and even become a referral source? Soon, physicians will be waiting by their fax machines for YOUR referrals!