When it comes to medical clinics such as outpatient rehab therapy practices, optimizing appointments is the key to maximizing your revenue cycle. Yet, no-shows and cancellations remain two of the greatest challenges clinics face as we head (hopefully) toward a post-pandemic world.
This is according to the results of a recent poll released in March 2022 by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).1
When medical group leaders were asked to share their biggest challenges related to appointments, a whopping 38% who responded to MGMA said no-shows were a problem. Another 11% cited cancellations as an issue.
As we all know, these issues more often than not lead to open spots on your schedule. And, these unfilled appointments are affecting your bottom line.
So, what can you be doing to reduce and prevent no-shows at your physical, occupational or speech therapy clinic? Consider the following suggestions:
1. Improve Availability to Reduce Wait Times
This can sometimes be difficult, we know – in the same poll above, “availability and wait times” was the No. 1 challenge respondents said they faced – but the expectations of patients today fall under the category “ASAP.”
Here’s what happens: A prospective new rehab therapy client calls your clinic to book an initial assessment, and he or she is told they can’t get in for two weeks. They may still book the appointment, but they’re also likely to keep looking elsewhere for quicker availability.
If they find another option? Well, they will likely be a no-show at your clinic. But, if you could have gotten the patient in within two or three days, it may have made all the difference, perhaps leading to a much longer plan of care (POC).
2. Book New Patients’ Entire Plans of Care (POCs)
Establishing an effective POC for new patients following their initial assessments is only the first step in ensuring they reach their functional or performance goals.
The next critical step, before they check out from their first appointments, is to book their full plans of care on your schedule. This step helps solidify the important nature of the journey on which they’re about to embark while, at the same time, allowing you to take fuller ownership of both your time and your patients’ outcomes.
Never leave it to the patient to contact you to schedule the next appointment, if you can help it. Remember, they are relying on you to guide them through this journey.
3. Include Patients in All Goalsetting Conversations
To help ensure patients are going to follow through on their entire plans of care, you need buy-in. The patients not only must trust you, but they also must understand the POC, potential difficulties and milestones, and how it all comes together to help them achieve their goals.
The best way to do this is not to dictate things to patients, but to work closely with patients to fully understand their vision for the future and how they hope rehab therapy may help them achieve that reality.
By simply feeling that they’ve been heard and that you’re there to help them achieve their goals, not yours, you’re likely to better solidify patient buy-in.
4. Communicate with Patients Between Visits
Let your physical, occupational and speech therapy patients know that you don’t just care about them during their one-hour appointments. Their well-being is important to you outside the clinic doors, as well.
You can do this by regularly sending them information regarding their condition, helpful at-home exercises they could be working on, and even inspirational messages that keep them motivated and bought into their POCs. These can be sent via email, text, or even the occasional check-in call.
Also, don’t forget to send out appointment reminders to all patients. While this can be done with a call or email, text messaging is proving to be the most favored and effective method these days.2
5. Learn the Why Behind No-Shows and Cancellations
No matter what you do, it’s likely you’re still going to experience the occasional appointment cancellation or no-show. When you do, however, don’t let that mark the end of your relationship. Dig a little deeper to find out the why behind the decision.
Without judgment, of course, ask the patient questions and try to get to the bottom of why they decided to cancel. Was it an issue of trust? Communication? Was there a misunderstanding around the POC or the time and effort it would take to reach their goals?
It’s only when you know the true reasons behind no-shows and cancellations that you can most fully address any underlying problems your clinic may be experiencing.
Setting Performance Goals for Your Rehab Therapy Practice
These scheduling issues and many other common revenue-related concerns related to rehab therapy performance goals were discussed in detail during a recent Net Health© webinar titled, “Setting Performance Goals for Your Therapy Clinic.”
In the webinar, our presenters discuss why transparent performance goals are critical for all rehab therapy clinics, how to measure various top performance goals, how to set benchmarks at your clinic, and how to get staff buy-in for these goals.
In addition, our experts dive deeper into how such goals can help rehab therapy clinics sell their plans of care, increase cash flow, and maximize the value of their teams.
To view the webinar for free, click the button below.
Webinar: Setting Performance Goals for Your Therapy Practice
1 Medical Group Management Association, “Back to Normal or ‘New Normal,’ Optimizing Appointments is the Key to Your Revenue Cycle,” March 17, 2022
2 Phreesia, “Appointment Reminders: Which Methods Do Patients Prefer?” Oct. 1, 2018