December 29, 2023 | Doug Cundiff, MPT, MPH

6 min read

Data-Driven Rehab Therapy Drives Patient Engagement

The most important component to successful rehab therapy outcomes is a relationship build on actionable data

Rehab therapy is a partnership—not just between the therapists and nurses who interact with patients, but also between the therapists and the patients themselves. To achieve functional improvement, a patient must be equally as invested in their own recovery as the therapists and nurses who work alongside them.

Fortunately, engaged patients not only benefit their own recovery, but the performance of the physical therapy private practice or hospital outpatient physical therapy department. Without engaged patients, positive reviews for a rehab facility can screech to a halt. Physician referrals can become stagnant, and patients can fail to complete their plans of care. In other words, without patient engagement, both the patient as well as the facility can suffer.

The good news is, when the relationship is strong, so are outcomes — especially when it’s based on data-driven rehab therapy. In this blog post, you’ll discover the value that patient engagement can bring to your business.

Data-driven rehab therapy based on patient relationships

Patient engagement may hinge on the direct involvement of a patient, but it stems from the direct work of a facility. To ensure an active collaboration between patients and providers, those in the rehab landscape must make it a point to create a culture of engagement in the first place. Patient engagement begins the moment a patient enters your facility for treatment.

Start by having the patient review their face sheet with a nurse or therapist, taking care to review their medical history and patient preferences. What issue is bothering them the most? How would they like to plan their journey to recovery? By involving the patient in their recovery from day one, it’s easier to avoid roadblocks that could deter engagement in the future.

Here are other options to further include patients in their own recovery:

  • Establish a patient pledge and encourage open communication
  • Enable therapists to share meaningful, data-driven conversations with patients
  • Keep patients informed on how they’re progressing compared to expectations for their age, acuity, and other data points
  • Encourage every staff member to actively engage patients in treatment to motivate patients to do the same

When you create a culture that supports patient involvement, you can reap the benefits of patient engagement for your rehab therapy business. Do you know what an increase in physician referrals, uptick in positive reviews, and surge in completed patient plans of care all have in common? Patient engagement.

Improve the patient experience and provide Value-Based Care

The COVID-19 pandemic was a strange and traumatic time for everyone, patients included. For those returning to therapy or just beginning therapy in this post-COVID world, it’s never been more important to make these individuals feel seen, heard, and respected. Though your organization always strives to create a pleasant experience for patients, it’s critical now more than ever to make patients believe you are invested in their success.

A recent study discovered that higher- quality interpersonal exchanges with physicians, as well as more out-of-office contact with physicians, results in higher patient engagement.1 Spending time to answer patient concerns, allowing patients to ask questions, and checking in in-between appointments can all involve patients in their own recovery. By doing so, these highly engaged patients can also report better care experiences.2

With those in private practice making a move to value-based care and MIPS, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, improved patient experience can also impact compensation. Findings suggest that patient experience scores, including those on the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, are not just a measure of provider performance, but how well the provider and patient work with one another.3 Net Health’s FOTO provides an outcomes management software solution  that helps rehab therapists improve their MIPS scores. By improving engagement, a facility can not only improve their patient experience but feel confident in providing value-based care.

Increase completed plans of care through data-driven patient engagement

Highly engaged patients are two or more times as likely as those with minimal engagement to prepare questions for their physician. They’re also more likely to know about the treatment guidelines for their condition and deliberately seek out health information, including how long it takes others to progress.4 When patients become involved in their care, they become equally as invested as their therapist to make it to the finished line.

What does that mean for your business? Less missed or canceled appointments. Fewer patients deciding to self-discharge because they feel they’ve reached functional improvement. In other words, more engaged patients mean an increase in completed plans of care, allowing your facility to reduce out-migration and boast improved functional outcomes.

Improve your online reputation (and impress referral sources)

Highly engaged patients are like cheerleaders for your business. They believe in your services because they’ve experienced the talent and knowledge of your therapists and clinicians firsthand. And considering 65 percent of patients report using online review sites for healthcare services, and 72 percent claim they tend to give “very” or “somewhat positive” feedback when reviewing healthcare providers, your engaged patients can be just what the doctor ordered for your online reputation.5

Your online reputation is a digital collection of everything about your business, from third-party review sites to your own website. Satisfied, highly-engaged patients are more enticed to leave positive reviews than unengaged patients, which can give your business the boost it needs. And with 71 percent of patients using online reviews as the very first step for finding a new doctor— and 81 percent of patients examining online reviews for a referral doctor—it’s safe to say that an improvement to your online reputation is definitely a good thing.6

Use data-driven patient engagement to improve your bottom line

Patient engagement is at the heart of every rehab facility across the country. And with that, we mean it’s also at the heart of every bottom line. Focusing on patient engagement can improve overall practice efficiency, reduce out- migration, and reduce the overall costs of patient care through improved satisfaction rates.

Combined, these factors can all drive the bottom line for your rehab therapy business. Even better, highly engaged patients act as free word-of-mouth advertising, leaving positive reviews online and sharing the success of your practice with peers. The result is a domino effect that can bring more patients into your practice and boost your profit over time. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.


1, 2, 3, 4. — Health Affairs, “What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health  Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data On Costs,” February 2013.

5 — Software Advisor, “How Patients Use Online Reviews,” April 3, 2020.

6 — Digital Commerce 360, “Even with a Referral, 80% of Patients Still Check Out Doctors  Online,” May 22, 2018.

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