December 4, 2023

Improving Patient Experience for Your PT Practice

Patient care goes beyond effective PT treatment. When patients step into your office, whether it's their first or hundredth time, they want to feel valued, seen, and supported. This is what's called the ever-so-important patient experience. Creating a safe and satisfying environment for clients benefits you and your clinic, increasing retention, referrals, and revenue.

PTs (and other healthcare providers) have probably encountered this term before, but how well is it optimized for your clinic to reap the benefits?

Below, we'll guide you on how to maximize the patient experience in your practice.

What Is Patient Experience?

Patient experience revolves around the care journey - how you deliver care and how patients feel during interactions (like personalized care, clear communication, and convenience). Even if you provide the desired outcome (like a successful treatment), if the patient isn't happy with their overall experience, they might share how bad it was, which could harm your brand's reputation.

We've been using the terms experience and satisfaction a lot. Aren't they the same when referring to how the patient felt during their visit?

Patient experience and satisfaction are related but not interchangeable. Satisfaction reflects patient perception of care, influenced by treatment outcomes, service efficiency, and meeting expectations.

In contrast, patient experience focuses on the care process and subjective perceptions. It emphasizes how patients feel during interactions with healthcare providers and overall quality.

Basically, the patient experience acknowledges that even if they have positive outcomes, satisfaction may not be achieved if they feel the care provided was less than stellar.

Why is it Important to Capture Patient Experience?

For starters, patients with a positive experience are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans, attend follow-up appointments, and engage actively in their recovery process. This, in turn, can lead to improved health outcomes. Which, as a healthcare provider, is exactly what wants to be seen!

Why does capturing this lead to improving patient experience?

  • By listening to feedback, healthcare providers can identify areas that are needed to improve the patient care experience.
  • Insights from your customers can ensure their concerns are being fully addressed.
  • Investing time in researching what patients want can boost positive reviews and rankings in your area.

How to Measure Patient Experience

You may already use these clinic practices to enhance the patient experience. But have you measured your success? If you're already using physical therapy software like PTeverywhere, you can use helpful features like tracking patient experience with surveys, messaging, and a patient portal. If not, we should chat, and there's a framework that can help called Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs).

PREMs assess PT healthcare quality from the patient's perspective through surveys and questionnaires. They offer insights into communication with healthcare providers, shared decision-making, and responsiveness to patient needs.

Examples include:

  • Quality Improvement: PREMs help identify areas where the healthcare system can improve, such as communication between patients and healthcare providers.
  • Shared Decision-Making: They can assess how well healthcare providers involve patients in decisions about their care.
  • Accountability: PREMs can hold healthcare providers accountable for their quality of care.
  • Patient-Centric Care: They promote patient-centric care by ensuring the patient's voice is heard and acted upon.
  • Benchmarking: PREMs can be used to compare the performance of different healthcare providers or facilities.

Popular PREM formats:

  • PTOPS (Physical Therapy Outpatient Satisfaction Survey): This tool measures patient satisfaction with physical therapy services. It includes questions about the helpfulness of the therapist, the effectiveness of treatment, and the convenience of appointments.
  • PTES (Physical Therapy Experience Survey): This survey asks patients about their experiences with physical therapy, including the ease of scheduling appointments, the cleanliness of the facility, and the communication skills of the therapist.
  • Re-PEQ (Rehabilitation Patient Experiences Questionnaire): The patient provides feedback on rehabilitation care, organization, information, communication, staff availability, and social environment.

7 Best Ways to Improve Patient Experience and Satisfaction in Physical Therapy

Understanding how to improve patient experience comes in many forms.

For example, PREMs or PT software provides data-driven insights to optimize the patient experience in your clinic. Here are some tactics to start improving the patient experience today.

1. Communication Should Be Clear

Clear and effective communication is crucial in healthcare, impacting patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes. Security and privacy are major factors in this, so be sure to use a solution offering HIPAA-compliant cloud-based messaging systems, allowing secure communication between patients and therapists.

2. A Faster Appointment Process

Nobody likes waiting in lines, especially in healthcare settings. That's why having a clinic with an efficient check-in process gives you a competitive edge. Simplify admin tasks with PtEverywhere, where you can use online scheduling, automated reminders, and digital forms for convenient patient completion at home.

3. Streamlined and Customizable Documentation

Creating materials that cater to the patient's needs and preferences makes their experience feel and seem more individualized to their care. Customizable EMR templates in physical therapy management software like PtEverywhere enhance personalization. These solutions enable healthcare providers to create detailed, personalized patient records, including treatment plans, progress notes, and health histories.

4. Easy Payment Options

Similar to waiting in lines, nobody likes bills! Patients will likely take their money elsewhere if you make this process more difficult than necessary. Here are some quick tips to make this process more efficient: educate the staff on pricing updates, be transparent about policies, and have an open dialogue when patients have payment inquiries.

5. Personalized Patient Experience

Adhering to the patient's personal and emotional experience can maximize the patient-provider relationship, boost patient engagement, and improve health outcomes. Ideally, patients should have minimal responsibility in managing appointments and treatment. Sending them appointments, exercise, medication reminders, providing remote telehealth options, and offering customized HEPs are effective ways to achieve this.

6. Resources and Education Available for Patients

Educational resources play a vital role in healthcare by empowering patients with knowledge about their health condition, adherence to treatment plans, and self-care strategies. Just because it's education doesn't mean you can't get creative! Utilize social media, craft engaging content and vibrant infographics to make your resources stand out. And once you're done, you can easily share these digital materials using physical therapy management software.

7. Patient Satisfaction Surveys

As mentioned, patient feedback provides analytics to enhance patient satisfaction and overall experience. The survey format is easy to create and for clients to complete. Instead of paper surveys, consider using the patient portal or email for a convenient and sustainable digital approach. If you see little engagement, try offering incentives or rewards through gift cards or treatment discounts.

Ensure a Positive Patient Experience

Prioritizing patient care goes beyond providing effective physical therapy treatment. It involves creating a welcoming and supportive environment where patients feel valued and supported. By using data-driven patient surveys, understanding patient preferences, and leveraging the right software used by PTs nationwide, you can gain valuable insights into your current patient experience and find ways to improve it.