Patient engagement has become a long-running issue among outpatient physical therapy providers. Recent completion rates for physical therapy have dipped as low as 45.5%,¹ and with the past year and half erecting constant hurdles for in-person treatment, there’s never been a more important time to ramp up a patient engagement program.
Fortunately, the rise of new communication strategies has made it possible to generate patient engagement in outpatient therapy with a few clicks of a button. Through electronic health records (EHR) software and physical therapy marketing, clinicians can now quickly tap into new avenues of communication to promote engagement.
Why Outdated Methods of Communication Don’t Work
Unlike acute care settings, where patients are constantly in the vicinity of a clinician or physical therapist, outpatient therapy patients are often spread across a city or town. Far travel distance and time constraints are just two of the many reasons why patients fail to engage with physical therapy programs, followed by intervening medical conditions, lack of privacy during physical therapy, and believing physical therapy was not helpful.²
The majority of outpatient physical therapy providers utilize strategies such as phone calls or texts in an attempt to ensure patients arrive at their scheduled appointments. However, if barriers such as travel distance or time constraints have already arisen, text reminders are unlikely to sway the decision of a disengaged patient. Instead, there needs to be very purposeful and deliberate communication to lead patients to take the next step in treatment.
New Communication Strategies to Leverage Today
While phone calls and text messages have their place among strategies to spark engagement, email correspondence, a patient portal, and physical therapy marketing are new avenues of communication that should not be ignored.
- Email Communication
Email correspondence is an easy way for rehab therapy providers to connect with patients outside of the office. American adults check their email for an average of five hours per day, making it an effective channel to target clients.³ Moreover, email can be leveraged by physical therapists to communicate the dangers of forgoing outpatient treatment to a wide audience, without diving into individual private health information.
- Patient Portal
A patient portal is a private, secure server that clients can use to view the healthcare analytics contained within their own electronic health records. When used alongside an outcomes management system, such as FOTO (Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes), clinicians can leverage the patient portal to provide data points such as how a patient is progressing against expectations and how a missed visit can impact recovery trajectory to encourage engagement.
- Physical Therapy Marketing
Physical therapy marketing encapsulates a wide variety of targeted communication, ranging from email newsletters to social media posts and outpatient therapy blogs. With physical therapy marketing services, clinicians can segment audience types based on existing patients or potential patients to fine-tune messaging focused on engagement.
Find New Methods to Spark Engagement Today
The answer to reviving engagement among outpatient physical therapy markets does not stop with advanced communication strategies. Download the latest Net Health e-book, 6 Strategies to Stimulate Patient Engagement in Rehab Therapy, to learn the latest methods for boosting engagement among rehab therapy markets today.
6 Patient Engagement Strategies for Rehab Therapy Clinics
Actionable tactics your team can implement right away to stimulate patient engagement.
¹, ² Marquette University, “Predictors of Retention in Physical Therapy: Client-, Disease-, and Treatment-Related Factors,” July 2021.
³ Adobe, “2019 Adobe Email Usage Study,” September 12, 2019.