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The Patient Retention Problem in Physical Therapy

The physical therapy industry is a $27+ billion a year industry, but patient retention is a major problem. Prompt works with and interviewed dozens of clinics and every one talks about this issue at length. Patients do not complete their course of care, have high no-shows, and it is hard to communicate with patients about their progress. Additionally, the clinic onboarding process frustrates patients and they rarely do their Home Exercise Programs (HEPs). Below are our findings from a patient survey along with discussions with physical therapy clinic owners and therapists.

Patient retention problem #1: onboarding and scheduling

73.9% of physical therapy patients were frustrated with the onboarding process

This remarkable number is a major reason for the majority of patients stopping their treatment early. From day one, the physical therapy process frustrates patients. Most patients’ primary complaint was the excessive amount of intake forms, and having to fill out the same information multiple times.

One patient told Prompt that, “I filled out 9 pages of paperwork that took about 25 minutes, and half of the information was information I had already wrote on previous pages.”

68.2% of physical therapy patients want to book appointments from their phone

Yet another issue with the physical therapy industry is the inability to book appointments online. Most clinics still require patients to book with the front desk and give paper reminders to their patients. Modern software can solve this issue, yet their is no PT-specific scheduling platform that makes this easy.

Physical therapy industry no-show rate is 14.1%

With most patients having 2-3 visits scheduled per week, a 14.1% no-show rate means every 2 weeks a patient misses one appointment. This causes problems for clinics, as the majority have a capacity limit and turn patients away because they are full. That means that every time you have a no-show, clinics lose revenue not only from the patient who did not show up but also from a patient they turned away. Appointment reminders, scheduling on the phone, and increased satisfaction with therapy would reduce this no-show rate.

Patient retention problem #2: progress visibility

70% of physical therapy patients would find weekly progress reports valuable

7 out of 10 patients told Prompt they would like to get a weekly report on their progress, yet no software facilitates this. Additionally, 47.4% of patients would like to understand their recovery better. Therapists educate patients on their progress, but without visual tools to demonstrate the progress to patients, clinics lose money.

Patient retention problem #3: HEP compliance

72% of physical therapy patients do not perform their Home Exercise Program

According to Healigo, 72% of patients do not perform their HEP. Failure to complete an HEP causes a patients recovery to stall, leading to them dropping out of treatment. Prompt found that 24.3% of patients that stopped going to therapy was due to a lack of perceived progress, frequently caused by failure to perform their HEP.

The problem summarized

7 out of 10 physical therapy patients do not complete all their authorized visits

With tightening profit margins in the physical therapy industry, this is a major problem. 7 out of 10 patients do not complete every authorized visit, with the average patient leaving 3 visits unused. Based on Prompt research, clinics lose out on approximately 1,000 visits per year due to this problem, costing clinics between $100,000 and $110,000 per year in potential revenue.

Dr. Lawrence Kim, the owner of Edge Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, discussed this problem. “The majority of our patients drop out of care early, frequently caused by bad software,” he said. “Good software would help us demonstrate our value to patients, remind them of unused visits, and improve their satisfaction with therapy.”

Prompt EMR & practice management

We solve these problems and enables increased patients satisfaction. Prompt provides a platform with structured data that enables:

  • Automated onboarding and patient intake;
  • Online scheduling and appointment reminders;
  • Built-in HEP with patient reminders; and
  • Patient progress reports

See how Prompt EMR and practice management can help your clinic! Schedule a demo today!

Prompt Staff

Prompt Therapy Solutions builds practice management software for physical therapy clinics ranging from single provider practices and startups, to large enterprise organizations.

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