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Blog # 16 - Why am I still getting a lot of patient cancellations??

As Levi Bauer explains in a post on the HDM Corp. Blog, “the median salary for a physical therapist is around $75,000, which equates to around $36 per hour. If there are ten no shows per week, that equates to $360 per week, $1,440 per month, and $17,280 per year. This is no small issue.”

So, how do we reduce them?

At Physiomentor we train our graduates to strive for less than 5 DNA/UTA’s a week, and we achieve this marker in all our graduates by providing them with the tips, tricks and tools for success in private practice. Imagine how powerful these young physios will be in your business when they are equipped with the knowledge that most of us business owners have only realised later in our careers.

If you are still experiencing higher than KPI averages for your DNA and UTA numbers then you need to change something in the way you deal with patients. It cannot just be the clientele you are being allocated. You are part of an awesome practice, your techniques are improving, but some patients might never experience your excellent care if they never get past the initial appointment.

Look at these areas for change:

  • Word of Mouth

  • Listen to the language you are using with your patient. Are you speaking in your foreign physio tongue and your patient is looking back at you completely confused???? Start using language and terminology that your patient will understand. Be positive for change, be motivating. Remember your language is very powerful in creating an imagery for the patient regarding their condition and it could be the determining factor as to whether they will follow your path of rehabilitation or feel there is no hope for recovery. Watch that you are not using detrimental words that may lead to poor patient compliance or worse still fear avoidance behaviour. What are you saying at the end of a consultation? See how you go? Just contact me when you need another session? Make another one and if you are better just phone and cancel? NO NO NO. What you say at the end of a consult is the biggest factor that will determine whether your patient will return for a follow up session. Most of us remember the beginning and end of something.

  • Body language

  • We can gauge a lot of information about how someone feels about us from their body language. Are you checking your watch constantly? Not making eye contact with the patient? Standing with your arms folded? Fluffing about doing other things while a patient is trying to tell you something? Be in the moment, listen to your patient, look at your patient.

  • Show empathy

  • You have a certificate in a frame to show your hard work to become a physio, but what distinguishes those that are great, fully booked, in demand physios from those that are great clinicians but empty appointment schedules is how you show that you care. It can be exhausting, day after day, 30 mins after 30 mins. But you signed up to be a healthcare practitioner and it goes with the label. Be what our healthcare system needs. Don’t be judgemental, don’t make it all about you and what you do for your foot condition and don’t talk over the top of patients. It should be a two- way relationship, not all about you talking and the patient listening.

  • Confusion

  • Do you ramble on? Do you talk so much that your patient can not respond? You are probably confusing the hell out of your patient. Confusing a patient will kill their confidence in your abilities to help them. Be concise and to the point and always ask the patient if they have any questions they would like to ask to clarify. Remember a patient will only retain about 30% of what you said in a consult, so reinforce your clear diagnosis and plan by writing it down for them. ‘Wishy washy’ words have no place in your vocabulary. If you feel you are being confusing because you are lacking the confidence or clinical knowledge to convey the message without ending up tongue tied then start practising your pre-made spiels in the mirror for common conditions and make it seem real not pre-rehearsed.

  • Deliver on promises

  • Having a timeline gives people the confidence they can get through their treatment plan working with you to achieve the outcomes they desire. If you say you will write a report for their next GP appointment, then get it done, if you said you would ring, then do it. But most importantly if you have delivered a timeline for treatment and your clinical skills and diagnosis are correct then you should be able to deliver on your promise. Patients will only tolerate no results for so long without and explanation before they will move on to someone else for another opinion. You need to make it so hard for them to want to try someone else because you are serving them so well in all areas of empathy, listening, friendliness, professional skills and achieving results. If you are not getting to the results as quick as what you expected then explain it, don’t hide from it, and get a reason why or find out why e.g. investigations. Otherwise, perhaps you need to review your time frames for recovery that you are recommending to your patients. Are they unattainable and making you look bad? You are a graduate, not the best version of a physio yet, it is coming but it takes time and ongoing learning. You will not be able to heal that Achilles Tendinopathy in 2 sessions or that chronic low back pain, so stop setting yourself and your patient up for disappointment.

I know this article has been blunt and to the point but we are now 6 months into you being a graduate, the halfway point. So, if you are still not able to get your patients to come back then you will be sincerely limiting and hindering your learning opportunities at this stage and for the next 6 months as a graduate. Now should be the time that your complex reasoning should start to sky rocket, but that will be difficult to achieve without the patients to learn and develop from.

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