Let's Help Each Other

Physical therapy is changing rapidly. As a PT with more than thirty years of experience, the changes observed in the last ten years triple those of the first twenty years. The pace of change is not slowing down. The Medigraph Blog will serve as a forum that will enable us to exchange ideas and assist each other. This blog will be used to share billing, documentation, and any other ideas to improve any aspects of our profession. If we share what we have learned, we can develop a resource that enables our collective understanding to advance our careers.

As profit margins grow smaller and expenses grow larger, we need to assist each other to survive and prosper. If we share our experiences we can help each other to grow professionally, administratively, and financially. Our professional lives, our livelihood, and our personal lives are intertwined. Our resources individually are limited. Together we can accomplish more than we can individually. Let's help each other


Tom Kane, PT
MediGraph Software

The Waiting Room
10/26/2011 10:51:00 AM
Please No Waiting.
From the patients' point of view, sitting in the waiting room for treatment is one of the most disliked components of any medical visit.  This phenomenon is especially true for patients that are receiving physical therapy.  Why?  Most people visit the doctor's office once every 2-3 months and the wait is softened by the interval of weeks between visits.   With PT the visits are usually 2-3 times per week.  The best treatment can be seen as less worthy by a patient that sits idle in the waiting room. 
There are a few suggestions that can help to remedy this problem:
    1.  Do not over-schedule patients.
    2.  Staff properly.  Many offices make the mistake of employing sufficient staff to handle the slow periods.  This policy is employed to reduce costs and prevent idle time.  In our practice, our philosophy was to staff up for the busiest periods, understanding that there will be times when personnel are under utilized.  Why did we take this approach?  Colloquially stated, "The bridge does not break at 3 AM; it breaks at rush hour.  Build the bridge for when traffic is heaviest."
    3.  Use a HIPPA compliant 'Sign in' sheets to avoid taking patients out of order.  If a patient is intentionally taken out of order, explain to the waiting patient the reason, most common of which is equipment specific.
    4.  Have the patient complete outcome questionnaires while waiting.
    5.  Involve the receptionist in managing patient flow.  This step is important because the patient's often believe that the front office is ignoring them.  For example, upon arriving in the office, the receptionist should greet the patient:
            Receptionist:  "Good Morning Mr. Jones.  I will tell the staff that you are here." 
 The receptionist will then will buzz the treatment area telling a clinical staff member that Mr. Jones has arrived.  This simple act of courtesy acknowledges the patient, lets him know that the staff has been alerted to his presence, and enables the staff to make special provisions for treatment (traction room, whirlpool, etc.).  It also disarms the patients'  fear that he or she is being ignored.
    6.  Use the MediGraph appointment reminder to call and email patients of their appointment time.  This utility not only prevents missed visits, it helps patients maintain their schedule as well. 
Are we skilled practitioners? Yes.  But we should never loose sight of the fact that we are also business owners/operators.  Satisfied patients (customers) will grow your practice.  In my experience, the best intervention can be rendered worthless if we ignore the idea that our patients are also our customers.  Do not get fooled into believing that because we do good we should be appreciated for our skills.  In our practice we treated every patient as though we were privileged to have them.  Why?  Because we were privileged to have them.  Accordingly, they would return to our office for future incidents, and refer friends and family to our offices as well. 
Tom Kane, PT