We all know the benefits of a physical therapy home exercise program—and that home exercise compliance can make a huge difference in a patient’s ability to achieve his or her functional goals and remain engaged in a plan of care. But, getting patients (especially those who don’t regularly prioritize physical fitness) to adhere to their prescribed home exercises can be a challenge for even the most motivated physical therapists. After all, you’re essentially trying to convince someone to adopt a new habit, and without a strategy in place to help them commit, you won’t get very far. With that in mind, here are four tips for getting patients to complete their HEPs.

The 2018 Rehab Therapy Salary Guide - Regular BannerThe 2018 Rehab Therapy Salary Guide - Small Banner

1. Get familiar with the fundamentals of behavioral change.

According to Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert, all physical therapists—nay, all healthcare professionals—should be well-versed in the fundamentals of behavioral change theory. According to Hebert, “If terms like social cognitive theory and transtheoretical model only remind you of that one class in PT school you skipped a little too often, then it might be time for a refresher course, because it turns out that people aren’t great at following through with the healthy behaviors we try to help them practice when we create our care plans. And if you don’t know how to help them do so, then there’s a good chance they are going to fail.”

Both Klepps and Hebert contend that surprisingly few people complete their HEPs as prescribed—or exercise regularly. But that’s something physical therapists have the power to change. “By knowing how to use tools like behavioral staging and self-efficacy evaluations to improve your patients’ success, though, you’ll have a much better shot at both achieving desired clinical outcomes and improving patient engagement,” Hebert said.

2. Connect the HEP to the patient’s goal.

One of the best ways to get buy-in from anyone on anything is to connect that thing to the person’s goals. After all, when an individual understands the benefits of something—specifically, how it’ll benefit him or her—that person is more likely to support it. The same holds true whether we’re talking about getting staff buy-in on the implementation of a new piece of technology or getting your patients to buy in to the benefits of completing their HEPs. In the latter scenario, be sure to explain to patients exactly how adhering to their home exercise plans is going to help them meet their functional goals (e.g., picking up a beloved grandchild without low back pain or being able to play in the community soccer tournament next month)—and minimize the number of in-clinic appointments they’ll need to attend and thus, pay for.

You may also want to bring in data to support your claim. For example, if 85% of the patients who are compliant with your home exercises improve significantly faster than the patients who aren’t, that’d be an important bit of information to communicate. And while you’re building up your own data stores in-house, you can refer to any of the numerous studies that have found deleterious effects of HEP non-compliance on clinical outcomes.

3. Celebrate data-backed milestones—both big and small.

You’re already collecting patient-reported outcome measurements, right? Well, as we’ve mentioned previously, you can use that data to guide meaningful conversations with your patients that simultaneously foster engagement and intrinsic motivation. After all, celebrating a milestone—even a small step toward a larger goal—can be a huge motivational boost for a patient. While we don’t recommend bringing out the pom-poms, we do recommend remaining positive, as this will encourage your patients to keep the momentum going—even if they’ve experienced a setback.

While you may have to have an occasional “we’re-not-seeing-the-progress-that-we’d-like” conversation, you’ll want to avoid discouraging your patients or making them feel as though the effort they’ve already given has been for naught. That’s a surefire way to scare patients away from your practice—and maybe even physical therapy in general. Remember: you’re a team. So, even if you have to take a stern approach from time to time, be sure to ask your patients how you can best support them going forward. Then, positively reinforce the next milestone—big or small.

4. Deliver HEPs in an interactive, easy-to-understand format.

As Klepps writes in this article, “When it comes to HEPs, many PTs are still following the same process they’ve been using for the past few decades—a process that clearly doesn’t work:

  1. Create patient’s exercise program.
  2. Give patient a print-out of said exercise program.
  3. At each subsequent visit, ask patient if he or she completed the home exercise program (at which time the patient will likely say something to the effect of, ‘Uh, yeah’).”

If this sounds familiar, then you may be doing a disservice to your patients. Instead, ensure you’re providing your patients with not only the structure and support necessary to complete their prescribed exercises, but also the interactive tools to help them do so safely—and maybe even enthusiastically. And all the while, be sure you’re tracking their progress. That’s where an integrated, mobile-friendly, patient-facing home exercise program like WebPT HEP comes in. With video exercises and a host of other patient-facing features, the WebPT HEP consistently achieves patient engagement rates of more than 50%—10 times higher than the rate denoted in the current Medicare Meaningful Use guidelines. That’s good for your patients—and for your business.

There you have it: four tips for getting patients to do their HEPs. For even more great strategies—including how to “give patients permission to make their HEP work for them,” check out Klepps’s post in full here. In the meantime, though, tell us your own tips for fostering HEP compliance in the comment section below. What successful strategies have you implemented?

  • Ditch the Carrots and Sticks: 4 Ways to Motivate Your Patients Image

    articleMay 25, 2018 | 4 min. read

    Ditch the Carrots and Sticks: 4 Ways to Motivate Your Patients

    For most patients, physical therapy takes a long time—much longer than many other types of care. Improvements happen slowly, and progress isn’t always immediately noticeable. So, how do you keep patients engaged enough to continue working hard—inside and outside of the clinic—when they start to question the effectiveness of your treatment? Well, you ditch the carrots and sticks in favor of motivation techniques that really work. Here are four strategies you can implement today to better motivate …

  • More Than a Number: Personalizing Patient Care in Your Growing Therapy Practice Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 4 min. read

    More Than a Number: Personalizing Patient Care in Your Growing Therapy Practice

    Many small private practices achieve success because of the stellar one-on-one care they provide—and amazing patient experiences they create. After all, what better way to foster patient loyalty and garner word-of-mouth referrals to ultimately boost revenue as well as your reputation? Unfortunately, though, that level of attention can be difficult to maintain as your practice grows—and patients can end up falling through the proverbial cracks as providers’ calendars become increasingly jam-packed. That is, of course, unless you …

  • Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar Image

    articleFeb 7, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Stalled Patient Progress Webinar

    Earlier this week, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, the president and co-founder of WebPT, teamed up with Charlotte Bohnett, WebPT’s director of demand generation, to host a webinar on common barriers to patient progress —and strategies for overcoming them. During the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, we received quite a few audience questions on the nuances of fostering patient engagement and moving patients toward their therapy goals as efficiently as possible. We’ve compiled the most frequently …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019 Image

    downloadJun 17, 2019

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019

    Each year, we survey thousands of rehab therapy professionals on the metrics, strategies, and complicating factors that influence success in the current healthcare market. In 2019, we received more than 6,000 responses from individuals in a variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions—and we’ve compiled all that data into the single most comprehensive annual report on the state of the rehab therapy industry.  This report features insights on everything from demographics and financial metrics to regulatory challenges …

  • 6 Icebreakers for New PT, OT, and SLP Patients Image

    articleFeb 16, 2018 | 6 min. read

    6 Icebreakers for New PT, OT, and SLP Patients

    While beginning a new patient’s first appointment by asking why that patient is seeking your services may be the most efficient route to developing his or her treatment plan, such a direct approach can leave your patients feeling brushed off. Now, more than ever, patients want to feel connected to their healthcare providers, and that requires excellent patient communication skills on your part—communication skills that you’ll need to apply before you jump into the clinical stuff. Think …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Image

    webinarJun 1, 2018

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018

    Falling reimbursements. Skyrocketing insurance premiums and copays. Crippling student loan debt. As a PT, OT, or SLP, sometimes it feels like it’s you against the world. After all, the challenges you face on a daily basis are many and complex. But, you’re not alone. In fact, we recently surveyed nearly 7,000 rehab therapy professionals on everything from payment rates and clinic budgets to education costs and salary, and we found some pretty strong—and surprising—trends. [video://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/eh5khgt1r6]   Curious …

  • Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them) Image

    webinarDec 22, 2017

    Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them)

    If life is a highway, then it’s a wild, bumpy one. And while our patients want to ride it (all night long), with all those twists, turns, and potholes, they’re bound to get banged up. Fortunately, you’re here to help get them back in top form. But, helping patients achieve their goals is hard work—for you and for them—and while everyone strives to be a Ferrari, it’s common to plateau at Pinto. And that’s when the risk …

  • Common Questions from Our 2018 State of Rehab Therapy Webinar Image

    articleJul 13, 2018 | 21 min. read

    Common Questions from Our 2018 State of Rehab Therapy Webinar

    Earlier this year, we surveyed nearly 7,000 PT, OT, and SLP professionals on the current state of the rehab therapy industry, asking questions on everything from salary and student loan debt to payer mix and patient dropout. We then compiled their responses into our comprehensive State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 report and hosted webinar during which Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, president and co-founder of WebPT, and Nancy Ham, WebPT CEO, offered their take on …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.