Post 78: Day one expectations
“Before any revenue can be captured, managed, or collected, these new patients must arrive for their first visit.”
All barriers to a patient walking through the doors need to be addressed. This starts with the phone call to the patient. Is there any reason why they wouldn’t come in? Are they caring for kids? Is your business able to accommodate a child in the clinic? Can they drive or do they need a ride? If they need a ride, does your company offer ride sharing? Once they are able to come, is there adequate parking (this is a big issue for some patients that can’t tolerate walking a certain distance). I have noted that this is a larger issue for a bigger company or a PT practice located in a shopping center. Stand-alone clinics don’t seem to have this as a problem. Does the patient know where your clinic is located? All of the above issues need to be addressed during the initial phone call with the patient.
“Scheduling staff need to understand their goal is not only to schedule a patient but also to ensure they arrive for the initial evaluation.”
We all have had those patients scheduled for an evaluation that haven’t shown for the appointment. Depending on your facility, you either jump up and down for joy for some breathing room to get paper work done or you slump because you won’t meet your productivity numbers for the day. I personally have never been slow enough that a lost evaluation has affected me much, thankfully. I almost always have something else on the stove to work on.
“’Have you been to physical therapy before? Do you know what to expect? Would you like me to provide directions? Are there any reasons why you may not be able to come to your first appointment?’”
This is basic customer service! The patient is the consumer/customer and we have to start looking at health care in this fashion. I want the patient to be so at ease prior to coming to the session that the evaluation seems like “old hat” for the patient. If there is any apprehension on the patient’s part prior to the first visit, then I did not do a good enough job of training my staff to prepare that patient for the visit. The front desk staff should be able to answer any and all questions regarding the “first day experience” minus any clinical information.
“…it is essential to have a person in this role who represents your practice well and has impeccable customer service. The scheduler must also be able to explain to the patient the value of physical therapy…Be aware of the scheduler who describes physical therapy when asked as “exercise, massage, and dry needling”
OMG! I would flip if my staff described therapy as the above. First, I take ownership over all experiences that patients have with me. I answer all of their questions and will speak to patients prior to that patient coming in for an evaluation in order to appease their needs and questions. Previously working in a private practice, I understand the value of a front desk staff for ensuring the smooth operation of an initial evaluation. The front desk staff is more than just a “scheduler”. The office must be an extension of me! This means way more than just my name on the door or my sense of the importance of therapy. Dave Ramsey talks about values. The person that works for me must represent my values, ethics, and morality. Dave Ramsey speaks of the hiring process in multiple episodes of EntreLeadership podcast and I highly recommend business owners start listening to the podcast or read the book of the same name.
“A professional and informative brochure representing your practice is more likely to result in a patient calling to schedule their initial evaluation.”
This may be true for some more so than others. For instance, I currently work in a hospital system in which the number of patients is endless. This is a good problem to have, but working for a hospital system brings other challenges. When working for a private practice, we would use the MDT brochure to give to patients and doctors. I can remember typing up a bulleted list of benefits that patients can receive from physical therapy. This paper, plus a small book to educate the physician on MDT, a brochure, and script pads would all go out in the mail to prospective physicians.
The above is the opinion of Dr. Vince Gutierrez, PT. If you are looking for advice on treatment options or a consultation please leave a comment in the comment section or leave a post at my Facebook page @movementthinker.
Excerpts taken from:
Collie M. Low Arrival Rate is Lost Revenue. Impact. September 2016:77-78.