Vanishing patients. No, they’re not magic, they’re the unfortunate reality for clinics across the country. And patients who don’t finish their course of physical therapy can have massive repercussions for your clinic. First, acquiring new patients requires far more man hours and funds than continuing with existing patients. Second, if patients aren’t having positive experiences with your team, this could harm your local reputation and damage your referral network.
So, what are the reasons patients don’t finish their physical therapy, and how can you increase their completion rate?
The Cause: They Aren’t Seeing Immediate Results
The Solution: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, change doesn’t happen overnight. And as much as we prepare our patients for this reality, it tends to go in one ear and out the other or fade from the forefront as the going gets hard. Set expectations with patients. From the get-go help them understand what each stage of their journey will look like. Help them see smaller goals that indicate progress. Learn to recognize signs of discouragement and take a moment to reflect on those benchmarks. A session of “hey, remember when..?” accompanied by pulling up previous session notes or visual representations of past assessments can help reignite hope and patience.
The Cause: It’s Too Expensive
The Solution: Medical expenses are a large source of debt for many American households. Unexpected costs of treatment can derail an individual or a family’s finances and many don’t understand the intricacies of insurance. Before the initial visit, have office staff sit down with patients to help them understand the true financial commitment to treatment. Walk them through their options in clear language and consider implementing fee discounts for 100% self-pay patients.
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The Cause: Life Happens
The Solution: We’ve all been there. Between soccer practice, that big meeting on Tuesday, your cousin’s wedding, and just needing a night to veg in front of the TV, our time is in high demand. If you’re seeing a trend of no-shows or last-minute reschedules or cancellations, it’s time to reassess your plan. Open a conversation with your patient about their time constraints, consider offering more at-home exercises if you think they can stick with it, or implement a telehealth platform to make it a little easier to adhere to their treatment plan.
The Cause: Mental Health Struggles
The Solution: Living with chronic pain can really drag us down. When our bodies become such an impediment to daily life, we can end up isolated, dehumanized, and depressed. Therefore, it’s so crucial for therapists to consider the relationship between the mind and the body and bring mental health to the forefront of treatment. Provide advice for improving mood, maintain an encouraging hand, and stress the positive outcomes in store by sticking with therapy.
The Cause: Living a Sedentary Life
The Solution: How many hours did you spend sitting today? Even with standing desks and lunchtime walks, these days we’re all living largely sedentary lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually conducive to maintaining the changes needed for positive outcomes. Take the time in the initial assessment to understand a patient’s lifestyle and don’t try to overhaul everything at once. Start with small changes and compromises that, over time, can amount to significant improvements.
Keep the Momentum Going
Remember, you’re not alone. Patient retention and no-shows are a huge pain point for clinics across America, and this is always at the forefront of our minds at Fusion. We’re here with software solutions to help clinicians create smarter treatment plans, generate positive outcomes (and positive revenue), and offer stellar experiences for patients. With features like telehealth, billing, note-taking and so much more, we can help you keep the momentum going with your patients. Schedule a demo today to see us in action today.