3 Practical Strategies for Reducing Patient Dropouts and No-Shows in Outpatient Rehab

Patient retention is one of the biggest challenges for outpatient therapy practices. In fact, 7 out of 10 patients drop out, and the industry no-show rate is 14.1 percent.1

Yet improving patient retention rates can significantly impact revenue. According to a study by Harvard Business School, increasing customer or patient retention by just 5 percent is likely to result in at least a 25 percent increase in revenue.2 In addition, satisfied patients often experience better outcomes and are more likely to recommend your services to others, creating a virtuous cycle.3

Why do so many patients drop out? Outpatient therapy can be a challenging process, and patients are coming to you at a vulnerable time. On top of that, they’re often juggling appointments and home exercise sessions with busy schedules and multiple competing responsibilities, while expecting a tailored experience and a high level of convenience.

That’s why it’s so crucial to adopt a patient-centered approach to care that improves rapport, engagement, and access—and it’s why so many private practice organizations are using this approach to drive better patient retention and outcomes.

We believe that there are three key best practices for adopting patient-centered care:

Streamlining the Patient Experience

Because your patients are busy, the care they receive needs to be simple to initiate, navigate, and access. And as 21st century healthcare consumers, patients expect this level of convenience. Modernize your patient experience and let patients know you’re on their side by making it easier for them to get started at your clinic, remember appointments, and receive high-quality care.

Focus on:

  • Creating a patient-friendly onboarding experience by ensuring that the care journey is smooth from a process standpoint.
  • Enhancing access to high-quality care for patients who are busy, live in rural locations, or otherwise have a hard time making it into the clinic.
  • Automating communication and reminders to encourage patient engagement and adherence.

Building Therapeutic Alliance and Trust

Caring for patients using a combination of clinical skill and empathy is the key to helping them feel valued, understood, and empowered to complete their care plans. Ensure that your providers have the education they need to provide this level of care, and that you have effective tools in place for measuring the patient experience and making targeted improvements.

Focus on:

  • Providing a high level of clinical skill so that your providers convey mastery and confidence.
  • Establishing rapport with patients by training clinicians in effective communication skills.
  • Identifying problem areas, making improvements, and encouraging satisfied patients to promote your practice.

Enhancing Patient Engagement Through the Course of Care

When clinicians are able to meet patients where they are, patients tend to feel more supported, motivated, and engaged. Ensure that your clinicians can properly assess and respond to the needs of individual patients, and learn how your organization can strengthen that engagement with the right digital tools.

Focus on:

  • Educating patients along the way to help them improve self-efficacy and achieve good results.
  • Assess each patient’s level of engagement to help them gain the confidence they need to take a more active role in their own health.
  • Supporting, reinforcing, and deepening engagement with technology.

From Uncertainty to Self-Efficacy

Outpatient therapy can be a demanding process, and patients are likely to be juggling additional lifestyle demands and even experiencing discomfort and fear as the result of their injury or condition. That’s why it’s important to make the therapy experience as patient-friendly as possible in order to help patients initially feel at ease, gain confidence as they go, and ultimately reach their goals with a high level of self-efficacy.

Get more in the guide. If you’d like to learn more about the strategies discussed in this article and best practices for implementing them, download our free guide on improving patient retention.

Your Complete Solution for Boosting Patient Retention

As you saw in this article, the high patient attrition rate in outpatient therapy means that it’s essential to improve the patient experience in order to keep patients satisfied, engaged, and loyal to your clinic. MedBridge provides the education for your staff as well as the patient engagement tools you need to implement a patient-centered approach to care that drives better patient retention and outcomes.

Interested in learning more? Request a demo.

1. Prompt Therapy Solutions. The Patient Retention Problem in Physical Therapy. https://promptemr.com/blog/the-patient-retention-problem-in-physical-therapy/

2. Harvard Business Review. (2000, July–August.) E-Loyalty: Your Secret Weapon on the Web.

3. Intuit. (2011, March 2.) Many Would Consider Switching to Doctors Who Offer Online Services.