Most people don’t particularly enjoy receiving homework—and your patients are no different. But, a physical therapy home exercise program (HEP) is a necessary component of an effective PT plan of care. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to work with a patient in-clinic and achieve the results you both want. Plus, the very best long-term results often stem from lifestyle changes, and that’s something your patients have to do for themselves—with your expert help, of course. While you can’t in good conscience ditch the HEP (regardless of how much your patients may beg), you can make the entire experience better—thereby improving engagement and compliance—by ditching the paper exercise sheet or shoddy free physical therapy HEP system and adopting the right integrated, interactive, multimedia, PT-specific HEP software. With that in mind, here are the features you should look for in your next HEP:

Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Regular BannerKnock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Small Banner

A Patient-Centric Design

Of course, any HEP software you choose should be easy for you to use (see number two below). But, it should be simple—and, dare we say, fun—for your patients to use, too. With that in mind, select a PT-specific HEP program that features easy-to-follow exercises (in video and photo formats) and progress-tracking tools that promote engagement, motivation, compliance, and safety. And make sure it’s all accessible from any Internet-enabled device, so patients can complete their HEPs at home, at the office, on the road, at the park—or anywhere else they can fit in a few wall sits or lunges.

In this blog post, Strive co-founder Ryan Klepps suggests “giv[ing] patients permission to make their HEP work for them”—for example, by breaking up exercises into smaller chunks throughout the day—in order to increase compliance. By ensuring your patients have access to their HEPs anywhere, anytime, you’ll help them fit their exercises into their daily lives instead of waiting until they have an hour of uninterrupted time that may never come.

A Customizable—and Monitorable—Program

There’s no one-size-fits all treatment protocol—and there’s no one-size-fits-all home exercise program, either. So, opt for HEP software that lets you generate as many custom home exercise plans as you want (in under two minutes), create and reuse protocols as you see fit, and even rename exercises to better connect with your patients. You’ll also want to be able to digitally monitor your patient’s progress and make changes to the plan in real-time, instead of waiting until that patient’s next visit. Unless you want to manually review every patient’s progress, though, you’ll need an HEP software that’ll alert you to updates as they happen (e.g., when a patient watches an exercise video, logs an activity, and completes his or her plan).

Built-In Patient-Provider Communication Tools

As I mentioned here, a 2011 Journal of Health Services Research study found that patients were more engaged in their care when they experienced:

  • quality interpersonal interactions with their providers,
  • fairness, and
  • communication outside of the clinic.

So, if you’re not building rapport during appointments—and outside of them—you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to enhance engagement. A well-designed, interactive HEP can help. Just be sure to select one that comes with:

  • a secure patient-provider messaging platform you can use to discuss the exercises and answer questions;
  • built-in notifications and goals to keep your patients motivated; and
  • a feedback mechanism that allows patients to let you know whether an exercise is too hard or easy.

Differentiating Capabilities

There are plenty of good things that are free, but top-notch clinical software is rarely one of them. After all, it takes a lot of resources to develop and deliver a high-quality tool that works the way it’s designed to—when and where you and your patients need it. Plus, the quality of your home exercise program is part of what differentiates you from your competitors—and emphasizes your value to referral sources and patients alike.

Free physical therapy HEP software like HEP2go are certainly popular—but is the savings really worth it? After all, If your patients can get a better quality exercise program on YouTube, they may decide to forego your services altogether and take their rehabilitation into their own hands, which can lead to further injury. Instead, select an HEP that best represents your brand and positions you as a consummate professional and expert in your field. Bonus points if you can actually brand the app with your clinic’s logo.


There you have it: the features you should look for when selecting your next HEP. Did we forget a feature? Tell us about the attributes you prioritize in an HEP program in the comment section below.

  • 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 …

  • Why PTs Must Embrace Change—and How They Can Do It Image

    articleMay 12, 2017 | 11 min. read

    Why PTs Must Embrace Change—and How They Can Do It

    As the chief clinical officer and lead physical therapist for a digital healthcare company, I have the privilege of regularly speaking to my fellow PTs regarding the trends in physical therapy and overarching healthcare changes that impact our profession most. While it’s always a pleasure to talk shop with my peers, I will attest that many of these conversations leave me a bit concerned. As the healthcare industry reshapes its infrastructure to pave the way for more …

  • 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 …

  • We Can't Take Direct Access Patients—and Other Lies That are Killing Your PT Practice Image

    articleApr 10, 2018 | 7 min. read

    We Can't Take Direct Access Patients—and Other Lies That are Killing Your PT Practice

    Running a successful practice can be challenging—especially given the current payment climate. Add in the potential pitfalls of making a bad hire and the staggeringly high percentage of patients who drop out of therapy before completing their course of care, and you have a veritable minefield to traverse. So, don’t make it harder than it has to be by convincing yourself (or your staff) that you can’t take direct access patients in your state. As it stands, …

  • 4 Signs Your PT Patient is About to Drop Out Image

    articleMay 29, 2018 | 6 min. read

    4 Signs Your PT Patient is About to Drop Out

    We physical therapists pride ourselves on being able to truly impact our patients’ lives. There’s really no better feeling than helping a patient reduce his or her pain and increase his or her independence. But, as most of us know, there are always those few patients who fall off the radar, bailing on therapy for good before they meet their goals. It’s a frustrating feeling for everyone involved, but luckily, there are tell-tale signs that patients are …

  • Sticking Point: 4 Tips for Getting Patients to Do Their HEPs Image

    articleMar 9, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Sticking Point: 4 Tips for Getting Patients to Do Their HEPs

    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 …

  • Why I Paid $75 Per PT Visit for Two Months Image

    articleAug 24, 2018 | 9 min. read

    Why I Paid $75 Per PT Visit for Two Months

    When I woke up after a night of boot-scootin’ my way down Lower Broadway—Nashville’s famous honky-tonk alley—my head wasn’t the only thing that hurt. In fact, the moment I stepped out of bed, I knew I was in serious trouble, even if I wasn’t quite ready to admit it to myself. Part of me was in denial that I could actually injure myself from swinging through one too many do-si-dos. But, the shooting pain I felt on …

  • Improving Home Exercise Program Adherence in Physical Therapy Image

    articleJun 20, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Improving Home Exercise Program Adherence in Physical Therapy

    Research shows that only 35% of physical therapy patients fully adhere to their plans of care. I’ll let that sink in for a moment, because that number is staggeringly low. It turns out that most patients simply aren’t doing their prescribed physical therapy home exercise programs —and the most common reasons cited are lack of motivation, questions regarding self-efficacy, and perceived barriers to exercise. While it’s true that our patients are ultimately responsible for being actively engaged …

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