Tips and Tricks to Schedule Your Physical Therapy Patients Effectively

One of the most frequent tasks performed by practices is scheduling patients, which can significantly affect your success. Since 85 per cent or more of a typical healthcare practice’s costs are fixed, maintaining and maximising your practice revenue depends on ensuring patients are scheduled effectively and efficiently. As a physical therapist, you try your best […]

September 22, 2023

Achal Sharma

One of the most frequent tasks performed by practices is scheduling patients, which can significantly affect your success. Since 85 per cent or more of a typical healthcare practice’s costs are fixed, maintaining and maximising your practice revenue depends on ensuring patients are scheduled effectively and efficiently.

As a physical therapist, you try your best to see patients during their scheduled appointments to minimise missed appointments. However, unfortunately, there will inevitably be patients running a few minutes behind schedule, needing immediate attention, or other unforeseen events that cause the entire day’s plan to be delayed. And at the same time, it is frustrating for the patient and the practice staff whenever such a time clash happens. So why don’t you read about the tips and tricks to scheduling your patients effectively for better management?

How to Schedule Effectively?

Effective scheduling greatly impacts how well you can deliver care to your patients and keep waiting times to a minimum while maintaining high patient satisfaction.

#1 Start scheduling after the half day

Make every effort to book morning appointments starting at noon and afternoon appointments starting in the evening. By making this the norm, you can maintain maximum productivity and ensure that most of the day is planned.

If the morning or afternoon shifts aren’t filled, you can hold staff meetings there to better use the time or reduce overhead costs by allowing employees to arrive later or leave earlier. Implementing a patient scheduling system like SmartPT or appointment scheduling software strategy like this will help reduce wasted time because empty slots throughout the day typically result in unproductive downtime.

#2 Have a written no-show and cancellation policy

Some physical therapists mistake shrugging off cancellations and no-shows because they don’t want to alienate their patients. Find a middle ground where you can value your time without giving the impression that you don’t value your patients. We advise having a written no-show and cancellation policy that is known to patients when they schedule an appointment and is prominently displayed on your website.

For instance, you might inform patients that you require 48 hours notice of cancellations unless there is an emergency and that you will impose a fee if they fail to do so. Additionally, you might inform patients that missed appointments will result in payment of your full fee. This way, it guarantees that patients won’t be confused about when their next appointment is scheduled or what the consequences are if they miss it.

#3 Send automated reminders for appointments

Sending reminders to clients in advance has two significant advantages: first, you are reminding them in case they have forgotten about their appointment, and second, you are reminding them to call and cancel if they can’t make it. The percentage of on-time arrivals and appointments kept increasing with the use of appointment reminder software like SmartPT.

According to studies, SMS appointment reminders can reduce no-shows by at least 50%. You can take another step and send multiple appointment reminders using your appointment software. This can be customised so you can send an SMS reminder two days before the appointment and an email reminder one week beforehand (or the previous week if the appointment is on a Monday).

#4 Make a waiting list for patients.

Even though last-minute cancellations can be annoying, you will be prepared if one happens if you have a patient waiting list. Use a patient scheduling system that enables you to keep a list on hand and available for notification.

When the dreaded appointment cancellation happens, quickly access your digital patient wait list that is stored there instead of picking up the phone. Then, you can send a quick message encouraging your patients to call and cancel rather than not showing up, which results in a waste of time that could be better used on more productive tasks.

To Sum Up

Every practice can use some improvement, and there are many ways to boost office productivity and keep things running smoothly. Discuss this at your next staff meeting if you discover that your practice schedule is consistently too full or insufficient. Note which days, if any, the schedule appears to be more erratic.

Establish these four efficient rules for scheduling physical therapy appointments, check that everyone on staff abides by them, and then remain open to other suggestions that might help fill in the blanks and produce a more flexible schedule. Also, take the help of automated scheduling software like SmartPT for better productivity.

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