3 Steps to Improving Patient Arrivals

After three decades in private practice, I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks on improving your percentage of arrivals and I want to share those with you. I hope that you’ll steal any ideas that I share with you. Today, I’ll explain the three-prong approach that results in an improvement in percentage of arrival. 

Number One: Strong No-Show Policy in Your Practice

First, a really strong cancellation policy is essential for any improvement in attendance at your practice. We understand that it’s hard for these pediatric families to get kiddos to therapy once or twice a week, every single week. 

It’s easy to cancel that one appointment. “Oh, we’ll be there next week.” Therefore, we talk to our families about their child’s progress. An attendance policy is an agreement between you and the parent to ensure their child makes progress. Their child needs that consistency to achieve steady progress. 

We define “consistency” as no more than two cancellations in an eight-week period. Families need to try their best to reschedule any missed appointments right away. When they try to cancel a third visit in an eight-week period and they don’t reschedule, we shift these patients onto what we call a “flex schedule.”

A flex schedule means they have to call in the same week or on the same day to schedule. Parents prefer to schedule appointments at a consistent time every week, always with the same therapist. Therefore, this change often motivates parents to improve their consistency in therapy. 

Number Two: Effective Conversations with Parents

Prong number two is getting your team trained to have great intentional conversations. Build their confidence in discussing the cancellation and no-show policies and obtaining the parents’ agreement very early in the plan of care. 

In addition, make sure your staff knows which goals the parents want addressed. If we’re not achieving the goals that are important to parents, they’re not going to make therapy a priority. 

In addition, we want to make sure we discuss what is going well and not going well after every appointment. We don’t want to only say, “Johnny did great, see you next week.” A child’s progress which we talk about every week is what keeps a family coming.

Train your team to have these conversations that increase consistency of attendance and improve progress. Don’t assume that they know how to have these conversations. Train them well.

Number Three: Excellent Communication of the Therapy Schedule

Prong number three is clearly communicating the therapy schedule. Maybe a family needs a printed-out list of their schedule. Or find out if your EMR—your electronic medical record system—can email or text parents. 

Before you do, ask them if they’re open to receiving communication by email or text. Most of our parents use electronic devices so they choose texting and email as their preferred methods of communication. It should be pretty simple for you to use your EMR system to get that going. If not, find another system that communicates with your EMR and enables you to send text messages and emails automatically.

It is worth the price you’d pay for this ability to communicate easily with your parents because it will increase the consistency of attendance to therapy. 

Maybe some parents prefer phone calls because they don’t like text messages or email. Do the old-fashioned thing and give them a call. We want to do whatever it takes to improve the consistency of their attendance.

Get More Tools for Staff Training Now

In the book Keys to Private Practice Success, you’ll learn more very specific skills to enable you and your staff to communicate more effectively with your families. A lot of their compliance depends on your staff’s ability to really listen and understand what the parents are saying. Chapter Nine gives you some great tools to improve in this area. Keys to Private Practice Success is only $29.95. Click here to order now.

About Diane Crecelius

Diane Crecelius is a physical therapist and founder of a multi-million-dollar, multi-location practice with well over 3,000 visits per week and 200 staff! In the past several years, Diane has worked tirelessly to support the Peds-A-Palooza group and the success of Private Practice Owners. Diane has presented at nearly every Peds-A-Palooza live and virtual conference since the first sold-out conference in 2018. Her extensive knowledge derives from her decades in practice and from being trained and consulted by Survival Strategies, Inc. She uses this training to help Private Practice Owners learn how to thrive and expand while keeping their stress low.