February 11, 2021 | Doug Cundiff, MPT, MPH

4 min read

How to Promote Patient Engagement in the Rehab Therapy Landscape

Net Health's VP ReDoc 360 professional services, Doug Cundiff, talks promoting physical therapy patient engagement,

Recent years have seen significant discussion about how to engage patients in rehab therapy treatment, and for good reason. Though patient engagement has always been considered a virtue among healthcare organizations, today, it is vital to practice success. With mounting pressure for value-based care and a sudden increase in telehealth service due to COVID-19, an active collaboration between patients and providers is necessary to design, achieve, and maintain positive health outcomes.

Download E-Book: How Patient Engagement Drives Your Rehab Therapy Business

If you’re curious how to ignite involvement among therapists and patients alike, consider this five-step approach to promote patient engagement in the rehab therapy landscape.  

1. Define Your Vision for Patient Engagement

Recent studies have shown a direct link between higher-quality interpersonal exchanges and a higher patient engagement rate.¹ Even more, patients who feel more engaged in their care are more likely to report better care experiences, which is key for private practices utilizing the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or MIPS reporting.² 

However, patient engagement can take several shapes—especially for outpatient physical therapy providers operating through telehealth services, or among acute care settings where pandemic restrictions are still in place. To reap the benefits of high engagement, it’s imperative to define a clear vision of what your practice needs to thrive. 

What areas are you looking to improve? Perhaps patient attendance is lacking and “no-show appointments” are deterring patient completion of their plan of care (POC). Or maybe there’s a gap between how therapists conduct treatment and how patients receive their care that’s negatively impacting patient satisfaction or physician referrals. 

Identify what you want patient engagement to drive for your business, then lay out a roadmap for how to get there. 

2. Create a Culture of Engagement

Patient engagement isn’t a one-off objective—it’s a pillar of rehab therapy success. To foster strong engagement among new and existing patients alike, it’s important to create a culture of engagement practice-wide. 

Methods to cultivate engagement among staff and therapists include:

  • Outline clear onboarding documentation for new hires that highlights the importance of engagement and remains in the therapy management software for future reference
  • Provide therapists with robust electronic medical records (EMRs) to share meaningful, data-driven conversations with patients
  • Increase interoperability between platforms so therapists can remove any downtime during patient visits
  • Practice verbal acknowledgments and affirmations for therapists who actively engage with patients both during appointments and in passing

Establish a culture of engagement in your team first, so therapists are motivated to bring that energy to each patient. 

Patient consulting with  physical therapist. Physical therapy patient engagement can increase outcomes.

3. Deploy the Necessary Software and Services

Once all team members are aligned, it’s time to deploy the necessary software and services to get patient engagement rolling. For instance, outpatient therapy facilities catering to patients who fail to show up for appointments may choose to implement a new scheduling platform that automatically sends reminders to patients. 

Download E-Book: How Cloud-Based EMRs Improve Rehab Therapy Clinic Management

Or, providers may develop telehealth services that encourage patient engagement, such as home exercise programs. Similarly, providers may invest in physical therapy marketing or digital marketing services to expand their reach to past and current patients. Tech-based solutions can streamline engagement efforts as well as help attract previous patients who have abandoned their plan of care. 

4. Empower Patients to Become Collaborators in Care

Even with all of the software in the world, there is no patient engagement without the actual patient involved. For engagement efforts to be successful, patients must be empowered to become collaborators in their own care.

Download E-Book: 4 Ways Outpatient Therapy Providers Can Increase Patient Engagement

Utilize outcomes management tools to inform patients on their tentative plan of care and how long treatment may take given their age, acuity, and other healthcare analytics. Discuss the role patients play in their own recovery and warn of the dangers of missing treatment, harnessing outcomes management analytics for reference. Inform all patients of the processes your practice has implemented to increase engagement, from telehealth services to home exercise programs.

5. Track Progress and Modify as Necessary 

Patient engagement is a marathon, not a race. As you implement changes among staff and daily operations, don’t expect overnight success. Rather, track progress through the upcoming months and pivot when necessary. What’s most important is creating a permanent focus on engagement, not an immediate spike in engagement. 

Discover how Net Health® Therapy (formerly ReDoc®) for Private Practice and Hospital Outpatient can help promote patient engagement among the rehab therapy landscape. To learn how Net Health Therapy can assist with improved patient outcomes, heightened communication, and robust telehealth services, request a demo today.

How Patient Engagement Drives Your Rehab Therapy Business

Highly engaged patients are at the heart of successful rehab facilities.


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

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