December 10, 2020

2021 Guide to Patient Engagement

“Patient engagement” is a term you have likely heard a lot over the last few years in the world of physical therapy. But do you really understand what it means?

While patient engagement has turned into quite the buzzword, its definition, importance, and achievability are less widely understood.

In preparing for the new year, let’s take some time to grow our understanding of patient engagement by answering the following three questions:


1.  What is patient engagement?
2.  Why does patient engagement matter?
3.  How do I increase my patient engagement?

What is patient engagement?

There are many definitions of patient engagement, but all center around the idea of patients participating in their own healthcare.

This requires physical therapists to empower their patients with the knowledge and tools necessary to do so.


Why does patient engagement matter?

Three things: Better outcomes, lower costs, and business development. Because physical therapy requires so much work outside the clinic, adherence is absolutely essential. Empowering patients to participate in their own healthcare will give them the understanding necessary to achieve optimal results with minimal clinic visits. Fewer clinic visits make for lower costs and better value. While fewer clinic visits mean you’re receiving fewer payments from clients, value and efficiency are large determinants of patient satisfaction. Patient engagement is linked to increased patient satisfaction across the board. A satisfied patient will have reason to tell others about your clinic. In fact, it is estimated that the average customer tells NINE people about your business after a positive experience.

How do I increase my patient engagement?

While many elements contribute to patient engagement, three come first to my mind:

1.  Good Listening:

Genuinely listening to what your patients have to say builds rapport and conveys both trust and respect. Patients who feel trusted and respected will naturally be more confident in their ability to take control of their own health. Make a point to develop caring and professional relationships with your clients, such that they feel like you are working together towards their goals.

2.  Comprehensive Modeling:

When walking clients through their exercises, make sure they understand each movement by giving them time to complete at least two full sets. Simply demonstrating a movement and having a patient repeat it once or twice will not provide enough time for them to fully grasp the concept. Nothing inhibits adherence like forgetting how to do an exercise. Additionally, be prepared to offer alternatives if a movement feels bad in a patient’s body. It is reasonable to expect some level of discomfort, but unreasonable to expect adherence if patients are miserable.

3.  Personalized HEP:

Delivering custom home exercise programs to your patients greatly contributes to each one feeling heard as an individual, not just like “another” client going through the PT machine. PtEverywhere makes it easy to deliver personalized HEP to your clients with an extensive video library and the ability to record your own videos directly through the mobile app. Take a look at “Do Your Homework: Effective HEP” for more on PtEverywhere’s comprehensive HEP platform.