PT owners recognize that patient compliance & retention is critical to the success of both the patient’s recovery and for the practice. The designed course of treatments is specific to the condition and musculoskeletal improvements needed. For some, that means 6 weeks of PT with 3 appointments per week. For others, this could be 8 weeks of treatment twice a week. Typically, most patients need to see their physical therapist 16-24 times to completely recover and be pain-free.

How can practice owners and PTs ensure that patients come back for each appointment?

First, you need to emphasize the value of each appointment. We know what happens—the patient starts to feel better after 2-3 weeks, and they think they don’t need PT anymore. But, relieving pain is not the only outcome patients need to understand. Reducing pain for the long term is achieved by improving the musculoskeletal conditions to support safe, effective movements in the future. Therefore, it takes 4-6 additional weeks of PT to ensure complete recovery.

Next, patients need to stay motivated and encouraged even when it feels like progress is fading. Some patients don’t see results right away and lose motivation. They expect physical therapy to feel like popping a pain pill (aka instant relief). Instead, they are faced with working through exercises and stretches that challenge them and require physical commitment. Keep your patients motivated with engagement techniques to turn PT from a chore to a challenge that they will win. Many practices have simple contests like “patient of the week” or exercise competitions like “most squats” to provide gamification. Everyone wants to win! And, patients can be inspired by a sense of healthy competition with themselves and others.

Lastly, patients need to focus on PT and not the administrative tasks that accompany treatment. Make is easy for patients to book and remember appointments through your website. Also, email out calendar reminders and events they can add to their smartphone. Encourage patients to store their home exercise sheets in their new patient folder. Thus, eliminating the “I lost my sheet” excuse and prompting patients to keep up with stretches. Finally, invest in solutions for insurance and bill pay. Your website should be your practice’s online hub with helpful blog articles, exercises, and patient management solutions. Complimentary services you can offer include online scheduling, bill pay, forms, and account management. By giving patients control over their accounts, you reduce the need for administrative conversations when they are at the clinic. Instead, they can focus solely on their treatment sessions and physical wellbeing.

Creating value for each appointment, motivating patients, and improving account administration are critical to the success of the patient and your practice. Let’s see how you can make simple changes to increase PT results.

Easy ways to improve patient compliance

  1. Write blog posts that explain the progression of PT from rehab to recovery
  2. Post patient testimonials highlighting success after completing treatment
  3. Create games and challenges that reward patients’ commitment
  4. Celebrate milestones and build a journey of little wins and big achievements
  5. Provide convenient scheduling options and appointment reminders
  6. Offer online account management and bill pay
  7. Keep home exercises and other health resources readily available during and after PT

Patients that complete PT are 10x more likely to feel better, stay pain free and promote your practice to their family and friends. Practice owners and staff need to champion patient compliance in their daily interactions and processes. The entire experience should motivate and inspire commitment from the first day to the final session.

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