With only 1 in 10 patients completing their entire physical therapy plan of care, finding ways to boost patient engagement in your clinical practice should be a top priority. Even the therapist who uses the best evidence-based treatment programs won’t be able to facilitate meaningful outcomes if their patients are not engaged and participating in their plan of care. In this article, we share with you the top 6 tips for boosting patient engagement in your practice for improved patient adherence, clinical outcomes, and overall patient satisfaction.
Build a trusting rapport
This may sound obvious, but creating a trusting relationship with your patients is paramount to improving the therapeutic alliance. The patient and the therapist have to work together as a team for physical therapy to be successful. This starts at the very first interaction, during the initial evaluation. While there are undoubtedly many items to cross off during your assessment, letting your patient know that you are there to listen to their story and understand their problems will pay off in the long run because they will be more likely to open up to you – making it easier to create their treatment plan, set goals, and communicate with them throughout their journey. Encourage them to ask questions, explain your rationale for each exercise, and help them set realistic goals that are meaningful to them.
Get to know your patient
Spend time discussing with your patient the things in life that bring them joy. Even if their hobbies are completely new to you, taking the time to learn more about meaningful parts of their life will continue to build trust and also help you to better understand what they’d like to get out of therapy. Assess how much time the person is willing to commit to exercise and design their home program around their current obligations and ability to consistently participate. Additionally, not all patients have a full understanding of the benefits of physical therapy. It’s important to recognize this so you can educate them on the therapeutic process and allow them to make the decisions to commit to their plan of care for themselves. Patients are much more likely to be active participants in physical therapy if they understand the commitment involved and feel encouraged in their journey, as opposed to feeling obligated to show up for the sake of showing up – instead, they show up for themselves because they feel a certain level of autonomy in their care.
Make communication easy
Communication between the patient and physical therapist outside the clinic walls is paramount to patient success. Providing easy communication between visits prevents a lapse in participation and leads to improved outcomes. Creating accessible avenues of communication to provide patients with feedback, guidance, and timely answers to their questions is essential for boosting patient engagement.
Use engaging resources and tools
In today’s world where technology is always at our fingertips, physical therapists need to be leveraging it to engage patients now more than ever. Implementing digital home exercise programs that utilize videos is a complete game changer for many patients because they allow them to easily follow along with their programs in real-time, ensuring proper form and pacing. This eliminates a lot of uncertainty patients feel about their exercises after leaving the clinic – videos are more engaging and simulate participating in exercise at the clinic or in an exercise class, even from home!
Using digital platforms to share important patient education materials in an organized manner is helpful for providers and patients. This provides one source of truth for patients to refer to as opposed to scouring the internet and consuming potentially inaccurate information. Providers can easily offer patients evidence-based resources that are specifically relevant to their unique needs. Plus, having all of their educational materials in one digital location prevents them from misplacing paper copies.
Empower patients to measure their own progress
Just as physical therapists (and insurance companies) like to see progress on objective outcome measures, patients like to be able to see and feel the results of their hard work. Take the time to review the outcome measures you’ve selected for your patients so they can also understand their progress. Better yet, provide them with a way to measure their own progress in and outside the walls of the clinic. One way to do this is to choose a comparable sign, such as picking their child up from the floor, that they can assess for themselves each time they perform the specific activity to gauge their progress. Another way is to provide them with tools that allow them to measure their own progress objectively. Luckily, innovative technology, like OneStep, makes this option easier than ever.
Engage your patients using OneStep
OneStep’s innovative technology equips providers with the digital tools they need to boost adherence, engagement, satisfaction – and ultimately outcomes. Our science turns any smartphone into a motion analysis lab, providing patients with actionable real-time feedback so that they are motivated by their ability to track their own progress.
As an integral part of our platform, providers have access to a vast library of video-based home exercise programs which break down treatment into bite-sized daily routines that maximize patient adherence. We also streamline communication between patients and providers so that your patients always feel connected and supported. OneStep is shifting patient treatment from "once a week at the clinic" to "anytime, all the time.”
Learn more about how you can use OneStep's highly configurable digital health solution in your own practice.
1. The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018. WebPT. Accessed August 9, 2022.
2. The State of Rehab Therapy in 2022. WebPT. Accessed August 9, 2022.