Competition in any industry is inevitable; graduates of physical therapy are no different, they compete for jobs and clinicians compete for clients. Given this situation, it is important to recognize the factors that will make you and your practice stand out.
Studies have shown that patient satisfaction increases with the quality of the treatment provided and above all the relationship between the therapist and the patient.
As a student, I have been able to witness the effects of strong and weak relationships between patients and physical therapists. One of the happiest patients I have witnessed complimented the service of the clinic and always refers to the staff as her family! She has been visiting the clinic for two and a half years and in this time strong relationships have been developed and nurtured with the therapists. In this specific case, the amount of time spent at the clinic naturally helped their relationship grow.
On the other hand, patients who have short treatment plans that last only one to two weeks generally have a tougher time feeling at home at the clinic without additional effort exerted by the therapists. One vital aspect of forming a strong, positive relationship with patients is to present yourself in a happy, hopeful, and spirited manner, it is important for the patients to feel encouraged by the therapist about a fast, and efficient recovery. A positive mood will give the patient the motivation to continue exercising at home, this was observed especially in elderly patients; many of them tend to feel disinclined to finish their exercise reps or to give full strength while performing exercises.
To an outsider, it may seem like fixing this problem is simple; provide a higher level of care. However, as a student it is easy to appreciate the stresses faced at the workplace by physical therapists and how it can directly reflect upon the quality of patient interaction.
From writing evaluations, follow up data, handling patient records and keeping up with appointments the therapist has a lot of worries and responsibilities!
Antiquated methods of record keeping can also contribute to this problem instead of alleviating it, in our next post we will look at what you can do to make more time for patients and cultivate those important long lasting relationships.