Even the best rehabilitation plans of care can be derailed for reasons that are almost too numerous to count. Patient retention programs aim to change that by keeping patients engaged, enthused and moving forward. Facilities that want to claim the clinical and financial benefits of patient retention will need feature-rich software that brings therapists and their patients together and proves the value of care. This is exactly what ReDoc powered by xfit™ provides.
At the heart of patient retention are therapists who help steer the programs from two different dimensions, according to Doug Cundiff, PT, MPH, MPT, Vice President, ReDoc 360 Services.
The first dimension is the therapist’s one-on-one encounter with the patient. That encounter, Cundiff says, allows the clinician to understand the patient’s clinical presentation, its influence on that individual’s personal life, and the opportunity to outline a plan of care that will help patients recover the desired functional level. The therapist’s role is to implement the plan and make sure patients understand it.
“If therapists are recommending appointments two or three times a week throughout four to six weeks, that means they are projecting 10 or 12 visits,” Cundiff says. At this point, therapists must use the plan of care to communicate directly with patients so they recognize the progress they have made and understand how the next steps will lead them to complete the plan.
For the second dimension, therapists help cultivate referrals, which Cundiff considers a fundamental part of patient retention. “Generating unsolicited word of mouth marketing is a powerful way to get those customers,” Cundiff says. He adds that therapists can help patients understand the value of the care they receive in a way that, ultimately, will lead them to refer the facility to others.
Built on software
Patient retention efforts on both dimensions can be successful if they are built on solid foundations. The best tool to build those foundations is specialized practice management software with robust reporting systems and the ability to search for telltale trends.
Some of the most important trends can be identified by using a cancellation/no-show report. This report, Cundiff says, accepts a variety of search parameters that report trends as specific as those that focus on certain therapists or patients. Tracking trends that demonstrate the currency and frequency of canceled appointments—and whether the patient called in the cancelation or re-scheduled the appointment—are also vital, according to Cundiff.
ReDoc’s reporting can also minimize no-shows and self-discharges that can be costly to a facility’s bottom line by using inactivity reports, Cundiff says. These reports identify at-risk patients, especially those who have missed a significant number of appointments, and indicates whether a patient is on the schedule for future appointments. The report also creates an opportunity for the practice to re-engage the patient.
“This is when you reach out to that person and make sure everything is OK, get them back on the books, and make sure they know where we’re heading during their next few treatments,” Cundiff says.
This is how to make patient retention pay off
Outcomes are a win-win
Patient retention is a process that becomes easier when patients believe in the value of the care they receive. Being able to prove that value is critical, and ReDoc uses an integrated patient outcomes solution, Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes (FOTO), to provide that evidence.
To understand how FOTO works, Cundiff says, begin by imagining a patient completes a survey after the initial evaluation.
“That survey is a risk-adjusted, computer-adaptive program that has a database of more than 7 million completed episodes of care,” Cundiff explains. “So, when any of our patients complete this initial intake survey it allows them to compare their road to recovery—to know how many visits it is going to take—based on patients just like them who are in the database.”
The survey provides the patients with validation that the clinician’s recommendations are supported by research. For example, Cundiff says, when a clinician recommends a therapy session two to three times a week for four to six weeks—patients can refer back to the survey and compare it with FOTO data. In a patient’s mind, Cundiff says, the data confirms that other individuals who have had the same presentation typically reach their goals within the number of visits recommended by the therapist.
Putting it together
Patient retention programs can begin with the simple first step of scheduling the patient for an initial evaluation, completing an initial evaluation and making sure the patient completes the patient outcomes survey.
At the conclusion of that first visit, therapists can use dialogue to set patient retention into motion. Cundiff offers a sample script.
“I’d like to let you know that we have a patient attendance policy. We understand that things come up, but if you can’t make an appointment be sure to give us a call.”
“We’ve also talked about the plan of care and recommend that you visit three times a week for four to six weeks [explain what is planned for each visit]. Also, as your therapist, I will complete a status survey every four to six visits to demonstrate the progress you are making.”
Get the benefits
Patient retention may sound intimidating, but by combining clear communication with software tools that prove the value of treatment, facilities that establish these programs will reap the rewards of fully executed plans of care.