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Melinda Koblosh shares tips to increase attendance rates and decrease no shows.

6 Ways to Slash Patient No Show Rates

These days in outpatient physical therapy, timeliness is important. With some clinics scheduling patients every 15 to 30 minutes, every moment counts. Here are some tips to keep your arrival rate high and your attendance consistent.

1. Remind Your Patients

When a patient leaves, make sure you ask them when they’ll see you next. If they don’t know, ask that they check before they leave. That way, they will have the date and time of their next appointment fresh in their minds.

2. Provide Positive Reinforcement

When a patient is early or on time, say you’re really happy they’re there; now there is plenty of time to try a new exercise, mobilization, etc.

3. Run On Time

Prioritize starting your patients’ sessions on time. If you respect their time, they’re more likely to respect yours. Patients will not make the extra effort to be on time if they are consistently waiting 20 to 30 minutes to be seen.

4. Educate Your Patients

If someone has poor attendance rates, educate them about the importance of sticking to the plan of care. Remember that physical therapy is like medicine, and you need the right dose to get better.

A medical patient with strep throat will not get better unless they take their antibiotics as prescribed, and physical therapy patients are no different. Tell them that, unless they do their home exercises as prescribed, they cannot expect to see much improvement in their symptoms.

5. Implement the Three Strikes Rule

This policy will differ clinic to clinic, but what has worked best for me is the three strike rule. If a patient has three no shows or cancels in a row, the patient should be contacted. If there is not a timely response, they should be discharged. This makes more room for compliant patients, which leads to better outcomes and more consistent cash flow into the clinic. Everybody wins.

6. Make Your Patients Accountable

If a patient is late, do not let it slide. Ask them if there’s an appointment time that works better for them, or if there is anything that you could do to help them remember their appointment time. Remain positive, but let them know that being late is making it much more difficult for you to provide the care that they need and deserve.

Ultimately, showing up and being on time will lead to better outcomes for your client, which is the most important thing. When speaking to a late or non-compliant patient, be flexible and understanding; nobody wants to feels scolded.

If you apply these tips in a kind, tactful manner your patients will feel cared for and you will have plenty of time to work your healing magic.

What about you, new grads? How do you ensure that your patients consistently show up on time for appointments?

Melinda Koblosh graduated in 2013 with her DPT degree, and had clinicals in acute, acute intensive rehab, and outpatient physical therapy. She has spent the past two years working full time at a private outpatient clinic, as well as per diem at a larger, inpatient rehab hospital. Melinda is also pursuing certifications in advanced manual techniques.

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