As a physical therapy practice owner, you know that patient appointments equal profits. The fuller you can keep your schedule, the more revenue you’ll bring in, allowing you to grow and scale your physical therapy clinic — or just enjoy a more comfortable cash flow. 

But when patients simply aren’t booking appointments on their own, how do you improve physical therapy scheduling? 

Physical therapists need strategic solutions to increase patient scheduling. Here are a few best practices you can implement to keep your patients on the schedule long-term.

Provide Self-Service or Online Scheduling Options

In this digital age, many patients prefer to schedule appointments as quickly as they can — and with minimal human interaction. A recent survey found that 67% of patients prefer to book appointments online. Some patients are willing to switch physical therapists altogether to avoid having to schedule their appointments by phone. 

Your physical therapy practice can capitalize on this trend by implementing online scheduling solutions. For instance, Weave’s Online Scheduling can enable patients to book appointments right on your website. They’ll be able to see open time slots and schedule upcoming physical therapy sessions and receive an automated text confirmation of the appointment details without needing to speak to anyone over the phone. 

Online scheduling can also make your scheduling process more accessible for your patient base. As a licensed physical therapist, your patients likely suffer from a wide range of conditions that limit their abilities to make phone calls. Whether they’re experiencing chronic pain or the effects of a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, they may not have the energy or stamina to carry on a phone conversation. 

Meanwhile, if you see patients that speak English as a second language, they may feel more comfortable communicating by text instead of calling, where they can translate phrases as needed. 

In 2023, there’s no reason not to offer online appointment scheduling. But if you’re looking to increase your appointment load, online scheduling is a no-brainer. 

Send Appointment Reminders

Physical therapists often build ongoing relationships with patients. Unlike primary care, your average rehabilitation treatment plan may include weekly visits for six months or longer, depending on the injury. That’s a lot of appointments for your patients to keep track of — and without an appointment reminder system in place, your physical therapists are likely plagued by no-shows. 

With a large number of appointments your practice schedules each day, providing phone call reminders before each appointment simply isn’t doable. Instead, many physical therapy services use automatic appointment reminders that require no staff intervention, saving your front desk time and reducing no-shows. 

With Weave Appointment Reminders, your patients will receive automatic text messages a certain amount of time before their appointments, such as 24 hours or three days. Through Weave’s interactive automatic texting features, patients can respond to their appointment reminders with a number of confirmation phrases, and Weave will automatically mark their appointments as confirmed. 

Weave will customize the appointment reminder based on the type of appointment listed in the patient’s profile. You can include as much or as little detail in the reminders as you’d like; for instance, you may want to include the category of physical therapy, such as:

  • Sports physical therapy
  • Pediatric physical therapy
  • Pelvic health/pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Manual therapy
  • Hand therapy

Including this information in the text also acts as a fail-safe to ensure that your staff entered the right appointment type in the system (and that patients chose the right appointment during online scheduling). 

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Book Follow-Up Appointments Immediately

Most patients in your physical therapy program will need a follow-up appointment, whether it’s in a few days or a few months. Booking a patient’s next appointment before they leave your clinic can improve patient retention significantly. 

Many people are more apt to follow through with appointment booking when confronted with the idea in person. Your staff doesn’t even need to make it a question; they can say, “Let’s get your next appointment on the schedule” before finishing up the appointment. You can even have your physical therapy assistant help with booking while the patient is in the treatment room. 

Waiting a few days to reach out to a patient and book their next appointment creates a few issues, such as:

  • Your staff must spend more time on appointment booking.
  • Patients may be less motivated to book appointments once they’ve left your practice.
  • Patients who don’t like talking on the phone may not even answer when they see your number on their caller ID.

Removing barriers to patient scheduling can help your clinic keep a full schedule. Train your staff to encourage scheduling at the end of every appointment. 

Streamline Patient Intake to Reduce Wait Times and Improve Turnover

If your patient turnover is high, you may need to reevaluate your patient experience. For instance, how long do patients currently need to wait before they can see their physical therapist? What solutions could you implement to reduce wait times? 

You can start by examining your patient intake process. New patients don’t want to spend an hour filling out forms in the waiting room before they can even see their physical or occupational therapist. They’re likely already in pain from the injury or surgery that brought them to your clinic, and sitting in the uncomfortable waiting room chairs may put them in a bad mood that impacts their impression of your clinic. 

Offering digital forms is a simple way to streamline the intake process and start new patients off on the right foot. With Weave Digital Forms, new patients can fill out their health history and medical records from a desktop or mobile device prior to their appointment. If patients forget to complete their forms in advance, you can pass them a tablet to fill them out in the office, reducing paper waste. 

Keep Patients Informed of Changes 

There’s no better way to make a patient mad than to wait until they show up to an appointment to notify them of changes to the schedule, their insurance coverage, or your office hours. 

Even the most organized physical therapy locations experience sudden changes that affect their outpatient therapy services. Maybe your power is out, and you need to close for the rest of the day. Or perhaps one of your medical professionals has come down with the flu and needs to cancel the rest of their appointments.

Instead of tying up the phones and calling every patient individually, you can use Weave Texting to send bulk texts to all the patients the change affects. Bulk texting patients for major office updates or closures also ensures that you reach these patients through the fastest, most direct form of communication. 

Letting patients know about changes as soon as possible shows that you care about their experience and take measures to rectify unexpected issues. You can also include information in the text message to help patients reschedule their treatment quickly, preventing gaps in care. 

Weave Can Boost Physical Therapy Scheduling 

Implementing solutions to increase patient scheduling doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. Weave is an all-in-one automation solution that enhances physical therapy scheduling and frees up time that your staff can spend on more pressing tasks. 

Want to see how Weave can work in your physical medicine practice? Request your free Weave demo today.