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Physical Therapy Patient Retention | Moving The Needle with EMR Automation

physical therapy patient retention

When a physical therapy plan of care is created, there is the expectation that patients will stay the course and complete all scheduled appointments. In the real world, clearly that does not always happen. Patients drop out frequently. It has been reported elsewhere that about 20% of PT patients drop out of treatment in the first three visits, and as much as 70% fail to complete their plan of care. Addressing this challenge requires recognizing the signals in advance and using the physical therapy EMR to get retention back on track.

Physical Therapy Patient Retention: Recognize Warning Signs

Patients who are likely to drop out of therapy often provide hints that things are not going well for them. Detecting these signals in advance would go a long way in turning around the patient retention challenge.

Using Negative Language

When patients sound discouraged and use negative, downbeat language in their conversations and communications, that could be a leading indicator that they are likely to drop out. Increasing the pace of communication to these patients could help arrest the trend.

Not Completing Home Exercises

When patients are not motivated enough to stay on top of their home exercise routines, that could be another warning sign that they are getting ready to drop out. Again, well-timed communication could help convert some of these patients into more enthusiastic adopters of therapy who are less likely to leave.

Missing Scheduled Appointments

Patients who are missing appointments are also ones to pay close attention to. Additional education and communication could help.

Growing Attrition Trends

Patient reports in the EMR enable a better understanding of the patient base through a review of monthly performance. Patient appointment statistics provide a summary of the number of patients seen and the number of no-shows and missed appointments. These reports call attention to patient attrition issues in advance so that it could be addressed proactively through appropriately targeted communication.

Physical Therapy Patient Retention: Use EMR Automation to Reverse Trend

The Physical Therapy EMR offers a number of tools to lower dropout rates and increase patient retention.

Appointment Reminders

As always, automation comes to the fore by putting text and email appointment reminders on auto-pilot.

  • Automated text messages: These could be sent to patients at predetermined intervals before their scheduled appointment.
  • Customizable text and email preferences: This could be taken care of in the patient information settings as a permanent entry or on-the-fly in the appointment scheduler.

Appointment Scheduling

Patients typically want to book, reschedule, cancel, and manage their therapy appointments anytime with ease.

  • Flexible scheduling: An intuitive patient scheduling software that puts critical patient information at the fingertips with drag-and-drop appointment scheduling makes it easy to respond to patient requests.
  • Marked appointments: Color-coded appointment blocks that clearly differentiate between different types of appointments and statuses make it possible to quickly navigate them.
  • Patient information card: Copays and alerts that could be seen directly on the appointment, with a patient information card that provides more details, helps answer patient questions efficiently.
  • Quick access to reports: Additional access to patient-specific information and a frequently used reports collection that is just a click away makes it possible to stay closely aligned with patient priorities.
  • Displayed authorization warnings: Built in warning engines that list any patients who have an expired, missing, or exceeded authorization help stay ahead of looming problems.

Patient Engagement

When patients feel like they have a personal connection with the practice, they are more likely to stay. There are many strategies to personalizing the patient experience using technology.

  • Real-time patient surveys: Requesting patient feedback immediately after a visit would be an effective way to capture the patient experience while it is still current in the patients mind. Patients appreciate the opportunity to be heard and would feel loyal to the practice when they see action taken to resolve any reported concerns.
  • Personalized communications: Programmed messages via phone, text, and email could easily be tailored to patients needs and preferences. From appointment confirmations to birthday greetings, patients would feel more connected to the practice when they believe they are looked at as a unique individual and not just as an entry on an appointment calendar.
  • Ongoing patient activation: The decisions that patients make outside the clinic impact their health and wellbeing, so keeping in touch with them when they are not on the schedule would make a difference. Sharing condition-specific guidance for managing chronic problems or simply inquiring about how they are feeling would raise their own level of commitment to their care program.

Forward thinking therapy practices are therefore taking a more proactive approach to supporting the care journey through patient outreach functionality in the EMR that enables them to connect with patients in a way they feel most comfortable with. EMR automation helps create a more cohesive patient care experience by delivering reminders, check-ins, and other interactive touch points.

Stepping up patient retention would be a mission critical priority for any physical therapy practice. Losing patients would likely be dispiriting for therapists who would see their efforts as unfinished not to mention the financial impact of fewer paying customers for the practice. Enter EMR automation tools to move the needle on physical therapy patient retention and step up care.