While the trend of outpatient programs has long been forecast to increase, it’s safe to say most could not have projected the massive trajectory of hospital outpatient therapy programs in recent years. Between 2005 and 2016, the number of outpatient therapy centers in the United States grew by a whopping 51 percent.1
Now, it begs the question: how will your program bounce back and stand out from the crowd pending this time of reopening during the pandemic?
Consider these steps towards becoming the go-to clinic for outpatient rehabilitation services in your region.
Step 1: Explore Overall Program Health
Before meddling with any existing processes, it’s important to take a bird’s eye view of your practice management program's overall health. Pre-COVID key performance indicators (KPIs) are a good judge of general efficiency, so analyze all existing data, including patient engagement and attendance, patient satisfaction, referrals, and therapist productivity, to plot current trends. These metrics should provide a clear view of where you’re succeeding and what aspects of your program may need further attention.
Next, compare your pandemic response to that of local competitors. It’s beneficial for you to communicate to your community that you’ve prepared for reopening with their safety in mind. As such, you may consider showcasing the innovative ways you can provide the help they need. Whether you create brochures highlighting your hygienic processes or emphasize your current safety procedures, assuring your community you’re the clear choice amid reopening is paramount.
Step 2: Define Specific Opportunities for Improvement
Once you’ve determined where your program requires further attention, define specific opportunities for improvement. Crosscheck recent patient reviews against performance data to locate an overlap between patient dissatisfaction and poor performance. Then, designate key improvement initiatives that address the performance metrics in question. Be sure to assess patient outcomes and identify therapists and/or clinical presentations that require additional focus as well.
Step 3: Create Action Plans to Manage Patient Attendance
Patient attendance is the lifeblood of hospital outpatient therapy programs. Therefore, it could be helpful for you to actively implement initiatives that drive patient attendance. Consider investing in scheduling software that allows you to manage cancellations and no-shows with real-time data.
Keep your finger on the pulse of attendance to engage with patients and keep them informed of follow-up appointments. Likewise, offer telehealth appointment options for instances in which a patient is unable to attend a particular visit, or has opted to limit travel among the pandemic. By offering patients various methods to schedule an appointment or visit a therapist, your program can enter reopening with stellar attendance.
Step 4: Analyze Therapist Productivity Metrics
Even if you make a lot of changes to your processes, your outpatient program most likely won't perform without a productive staff. Quantify the time your staff spends with patients, as well as their time spent on documentation, reviewing charts, ordering equipment, or conferring with other therapists and medical professionals.
How does your therapists’ day-to-day allocation of time stack up against their productivity goals? Determine where time could be better allocated and locate opportunities for efficiency gains to become the clear choice for outpatient rehabilitation services.
Step 5: Prepare to Scale
Don’t just prepare to stand out from the crowd during reopening—prepare to scale. Assess your ability to compensate for new business volume. Will you require additional staff to accommodate new patients? Will you need to ramp up your marketing efforts to assist in growth?
All of your bases need to be covered before you begin implementing changes—otherwise, you risk having too many patients and too little resources. But if you play your cards right, you could optimize your program to become the clear choice for outpatient rehabilitation services in your region.
Learn how Net Health Therapy specialized EHR solution can help your private practice or hospital outpatient rehab therapy program compete to become the preferred therapy provider in these unprecedented times.
- CBRE Research. (2018). U.S. Medical Office Buildings: Strong Demand, Aging Population Fueling Growth.