Your physical therapy practice can’t succeed without patients to treat. That’s a given. But what you may not know is that patient scheduling can also play a significant role in the ultimate financial health and reputation of your practice. If you’re running into scheduling conflicts, it’s time to take action and get your practice back on track. Here are 6 reasons why your patient scheduling process could be failing you, along with some tips on how to fix them.
#1: You’re Overscheduling
We understand the temptation to overschedule, especially if you have a problem with no-shows and cancellations. However, when you and your staff schedule more patients than you can reasonably treat in a day, you’re likely to become stressed and deliver less-than-ideal care to your patients.
The solution is to use scheduling tools to map out your day and make sure your staff understands how long appointments take and when you’re available.
#2: You’re Not Reminding Patients About Appointments
We’ve already mentioned the problem of no-show patients and last-minute cancellations, but this is an issue that can be resolved with proper scheduling. When patients don’t show up for an appointment, it’s often because they simply forget — and there’s something you can do about it.
The solution is to send regular patient reminders about appointments, which is something you can do with HENO. Our system allows you to schedule and manage patient reminders directly from the dashboard, making it easy to minimize no-shows.
#3: You’re Not Making the Best Use of Your Energy
As a provider, you always want to give the best possible care to your patients. You also know that you’re human — and that you have limited energy and resources to devote to your practice. One of the biggest mistakes that physical therapists make is not using their time and energy efficiently.
In terms of scheduling, that means paying attention to when you feel your best and scheduling your patients accordingly. You should be talking to your staff about how and when you want to work. You may be best off scheduling the treatments (and patients) that require the most energy first thing in the morning. On a related note, it’s okay to work the hours that suit you sometimes, not just the hours that suit your patients’ preferences.
#4: You Don’t Have a No-Show or Cancellation Policy
Another mistake that physical therapists make is treating no-shows and cancellations as if they’re no big deal. While it’s understandable to want your patients to feel that they haven’t hurt you by not showing up, it’s important to be honest about the fact that no-shows cost you money.
We suggest putting a firm policy in place. For example, you might:
- Require patients to cancel at least 24 hours before their appointment
- Charge a cancellation fee if they give you less than 24 hours’ notice
- Require patients to pay for appointments if they don’t show up
It may also be beneficial to sit down and talk to patients who no-show or cancel more than once. Your time is valuable and it’s important to let them know that.
How much time do you need for patient appointments? If you don’t have a handle on the answer to that question — or you haven’t let your staff know what you need — then you’re probably running into an issue where you get backed up as the day progresses. That’s a problem because it means you’re leaving patients waiting for you to get to them.
The solution is to time your appointments and make sure your staff understands how long treatments take and how much time you need between appointments. You can build that information into your scheduling to ensure that your patients are properly scheduled.
#6: You’re Not Using Technology to Help with Scheduling
It might be tempting to forego using a scheduling program or tool in favor of doing things the old-fashioned way, but we also think it’s a mistake. Paper schedules — or even a scheduling system that you’ve cobbled together using Excel — allow for too many mistakes and misunderstandings.
We suggest using an all-in-one practice management solution such as HENO to manage your patient schedules and ensure that you’re using your time productively and well. We’ve equipped HENO with tools to help you avoid overscheduling and maximize the efficiency and profitability of your physical therapy practice.
Patient scheduling can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be something that harms your practice or cuts into your profits. The 6 things we’ve listed here highlight some suggestions for how you can stop making patient scheduling mistakes.
Ready to see how HENO can help you manage your patient scheduling process? Click here to schedule your free demo now!
Katie co-founded HENO based on her career as a physical therapist and practice owner of over 10 years. Her understanding of the pain points many practice owners face has equipped her to create practice management solutions that optimize the efficiency and profitability of physical, speech and occupational therapy clinics.