Physical Therapy Practice Management: Reducing Patient No Shows in Physical Therapy, Part 2 of 4

This is the second blog in a 4 part series of articles based on an interview with Paul Christensen, DPT, OCS, ATC, FAAOMPT.  Paul is the founder of OPTM Physical Therapy Group with office in San Jose and Los Gatos California and is on the Clinical Advisory Group for Clinicient. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paul and ask him how he manages the no show rate at his clinics. In a previous post, Paul explained how their practice reputation influences their No Show rate.

We already talked about your organization’s reputation in the community.  What about your organization’s philosophy?

If we change our vision of the future we can aspire to those goals and make real change in the world. This applies to the patients and in your business culture with employees. It applies to everyone! If the organization does well, we all benefit.

It is amazing what can be accomplished if you can put aside your ego don’t worry about who gets the credit. If you’re doing an excellent job, everyone will find out anyway.  As an example, I am beginning to think that I am probably not the right guy to hire staff for the practice any more. I am getting older and I’m hiring staff that is 30 years younger than me now. They probably don’t relate well to someone who reminds them of their Dad. I think I need to put aside my ego and let younger clinical leaders in my practice make those hiring decisions.  I try to remember that it is not about who is right, it is about what
is right.  It is not about me, it is about the business.  Everyone benefits if we all do well.

I try to instill an adult relationship with my staff.  This is sometimes a struggle, because, for many of them, it is the first time that they have been treated like an adult.  If you are a practice owner and you feel like you can never go on vacation and leave your staff unsupervised, I believe you caused that problem yourself by not treating your staff like adults with adult responsibilities.

Passion is directly related to the failed appointment rate.  I believe that if you count your blessings, you receive more blessings, and people feel good being around you.  If you are negative it is just the opposite.

This is not a democratic organization, it is a benevolent dictatorship and my staff understands that.  It isn’t that I don’t take their input, but I don’t need a debate about our philosophy.  If we can’t agree on our philosophy, it isn’t a good fit. This is so important to our success that we have monthly
in-services on a Saturday and part of each meeting is always centered around our shared philosophy on patient care.  My staff sometimes asks why we talk about the same things at every staff meeting.  I say “If these things weren’t a continuing problem, do you think I would waste everyone’s time and continue
to talk about it?”

Our treatment philosophy is centered on our patients.  My recurring message to my staff is that we should all stop thinking about what we do to patients and instead think about what the patient needs.  I don’t care about “the how”, I care about results. It isn’t about the therapist, it is about the patient.

Patients will become confused and less satisfied with your practice if the staff doesn’t have a common philosophy. If a patient is being seen my more than one therapist over the course of their treatment, and those therapists don’t have a common philosophy; the patient will become confused and dissatisfied.

I try to communicate to my staff that we sell the most perishable commodity there is: Time.  Everyone needs to understand that a missed visit is gone forever, and it can never be recovered.

In future articles in this series, Paul will discuss how important management metrics and schedule management contribute to the low no show rate at OPTM.

Read Part 1: Identifying the right problem and how your organization’s community reputation influences no show rates.

Read Part 3: Important metrics to measure and managing therapists vacations

Read Part 4:  Managing the front desk schedule and selling appointments

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