Managing and Preventing “Summer Slide” in Your Pediatric Business

The change of seasons can often change the fortunes (ie. productivity and profitability) of the physical therapy industry – especially for pediatric practices whose target clientele are essentially on a three-month sabbatical. 

Summer downturn can be a pronounced issue with pediatric patient populations, since this is typically when parents may pause their programs for vacations, camps or to shift focus on different areas during the summer.

These changes result in a lapse of care that can hurt the patients’ progress and your bottom line. Similar to the summer decline children are known to experience in education, there can be a decline in functional ability and progress toward therapeutic goals. This is often called the “summer slide.” 

We’ve consulted with Pediatric private practices to uncover some creative ways to reduce the impact of this seasonal period on your physical therapy practice.

How to Stop “Summer Slide” In Your Pediatric Private Practice

Whether you are starting a pediatric practice or already established, business operations and physical therapy sessions are expected to fall behind during the summer slide. Luckily, there are strategies to reduce the impact of this downturn.

One strategy is a reduced or more flexible summer schedule that coincides with the decreased demand for after-school appointments. A patient may not be in the optimal program, but at least a partial schedule can keep them on track with their therapeutic needs.

Preparing for cancellations is arguably the most important thing you can do to ensure your clinic can make it through the summer slide with minimal impact. A wave of cancellations can be a huge problem for any physical therapy practice, so it makes sense to protect your business by getting in front of them.

5 Ways to Proactively Prepare for Patient Cancellations

  • Firm up your cancellation policy. Families can grow distracted with busy summer plans, but physical therapy needs to be a priority for children and student-athletes. A firm cancellation policy keeps therapy in mind by outlining the risk (both wellness and monetary) for canceling an appointment.
  • Transition to teletherapy if you can. For families on vacation, work within your state law and practice to establish teletherapy check-ins to ensure patients are keeping up on their program.
  • Coordinate between your clinic and patients’ families. When you know a vacation is on the horizon for a patient, it will allow your clinicians time to adjust and make program changes, such as teletherapy visits.
  • Adjust your own scheduling when you can. Fill in gaps based on families returning from vacation as other families begin their vacation. Juggling schedules can be a pain but will help reduce the fiscal impact of the summer slide.
  • Lastly, remember that your therapists may need a break too. Be sure that your therapists refer their patients to other therapists in your practice during their vacations. The summer slide can go both ways!

Additional Income Sources for a Pediatric Private Practice

In the end, cutting back on primary appointments with your pediatric patients doesn’t have to be devastating to your bottom line. Consider diversifying your income verticals with cash-based enrichment programs. 

We’ve seen these successfully help Pediatric Private Practices navigate the summer slide and actually become ongoing programs:

  • Social-motor groups
  • Summer fitness camps
  • Short-term intensive therapy programs
  • Kindergarten readiness programs
  • Handwriting Bootcamp

Take Your Peds Practice to the Next Level with MEG Business

To learn more about these programs or to find other critical paths to business success for your pediatric practice, contact MEG Business and discover how we continue to help physical therapy owners reach the top 10% in the industry.

Schedule a practice assessment call today or visit our MEG Academy page to learn more about our new Peds program!

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