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Physical Therapy Practice: To close or not during the holidays?

Let's face it.  Most employees don't want to work around the holidays.   They want to spend time with their friends and family and have a chance to relax and enjoy themselves for a few extra days at the least.  And I can safely say that most patients don't necessarily want to come in for therapy during the holidays either; unless they have to, if they are post-op and it would be detrimental NOT to.  Creating an efficient, yet profitable schedule for your practice can make or break it.  So when the holidays come around and you factor in all of your expenses, how do you know if it's worth it or not to stay open?

If you've been in practice for a few years through the holiday seasons, then it's easy to look back at your numbers from prior years and decide what days to close.  But if you're a new practice, sometimes that decision is a shot in the dark.  To be quite honest, it's not an easy decision to make.  

Being closed means NO revenue.  None.  You don't provide a service, you don't receive any money.  But being open to see patients also doesn't mean you'll make money either.  Over the holidays you tend to get more last minute cancels and no-shows from patients, which can really hurt.  So what's the solution?!

Look at your numbers for the couple of weeks prior and look at the current diagnoses on your caseload.  

  • If you see a lot of stroke patients, or post-op TKA patients, then you may want to be open to accommodate them and to have yourself a nice, full schedule.
  • Who on your team wants to work versus take vacation time?
  • How many evalations have you typically had the last few years around the holidays?
  • What were your past cancel/no-show rates during the holidays?

This year is a little iffy since Christmas and New Years Day fall on Sundays.  Our clinics see a lot of orthopedic issues and geriatrics, so we've elected to stay open throughout the holidays, but with more condensed hours and almost half the staff.  You could also choose to double book patients with the expectation that a fair percentage will cancel or not show up at all.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep good records of all your stats during this time.  That way when next Christmas rolls around you're ready to make a solid decision based on this year's outcome.

Please share your experiences with maintaining a good schedule over the holidays.  Merry Christmas everyone!!!  

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