Missing Piece Blog

Handling An ABA Waitlist

It’s estimated that, as of 2023, there are over 33,600 ABA therapists employed in the US. This sounds like a high number, but when one considers that one in every 44 American children is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, it’s easy to understand why the majority of ABA therapy practices have a waitlist. 

As a provider, you undoubtedly want to help as many patients and families as you can, but the reality is that there are only so many hours in a day. You may be wondering how to manage a waitlist effectively and with compassion. Read on for our expert advice on finding that balance.

What is a patient or client waitlist?

A waitlist is created when you simply don’t have enough available hours to provide your ABA therapy service to people in need of it. 

ABA services are in high demand, with a limited number of well-qualified professionals available to meet that demand. What’s more, those seeking these services want to find the best providers available.

Effective ABA Therapy Waitlist Management Strategies

Communicate Upfront

Be realistic. Tell prospective clients that there is a waitlist and inform them how long it might take for them or their children to receive the therapy they need from your practice. Is it three months? Over a year? Provide a range instead of a specific figure when possible, such as three to six months. Also, inform individuals when they should contact you again to see if waitlist times have improved. When possible, avoid making hard promises.

Provide Prospective Clients with Advice to Help Them Receive Care Sooner

There are various “best practices” that parents seeking out ABA therapy for their children can follow. For example, you could encourage them to put their names down on more than one waitlist and to regularly call in or email to ask for an update on their status regarding your waitlist. 

Knowing how critical it is for a child to receive treatment from as early an age as possible, it’s also extremely helpful to provide prospective parents with resources that they can use while they wait to receive support from an ABA therapist. You could make a significant difference by supplying information regarding relevant online training, workshops and courses, as well as connections to local support groups.

Establish a Referral System

Work to identify one or two other providers you know who provide similar services and who you feel confident vouching for. Offering an alternative option for your prospective patients may help them receive care sooner — even if you cannot provide it yourself. Be sure to vet alternative resources, however, to find out the types of services they offer and their availability. 

Consider building a mutually-beneficial relationship with these other providers and keeping in regular contact with one another to establish availability. Obviously, it won’t be helpful to refer prospective patients to another provider whose waitlist is just as long as yours. 

Oversee Waitlist Times to Ensure They Remain Accurate

Monitor waitlists to determine when times may shorten. In some situations, you may find that patients no longer need or want care, which may open the door for others. Some providers choose to invest in software to manage waitlists and more accurately predict waitlist times. This type of software collects data regarding the rate of fade out, changes in staff availability, and provider capacity. Alternatively, you may want to consider hiring a waitlist manager.

Also, be sure to get an idea of what it may take to help eliminate the list completely. It may be worthwhile to think about hiring a new therapist or two and growing your practice. As long as finances allow, doing so would be to the advantage of both your business and the individuals currently on your waitlist.

Look into Telehealth to Increase Capacity

It’s a good idea to investigate offering telehealth ABA services in conjunction with in-person sessions if you find that late arrivals or running over time are factors that impact your capacity as an ABA therapy provider. If you wish to take on more patients and shorten your waitlist, telehealth ABA services can also be conducted in addition to regular therapy hours, such as on weekends or in the early mornings or evenings.

Work to Streamline Operations to Meet Patient Needs

In some situations, the goal is to ensure your practice is running well so that you can care for as many people as needed. To do this, consider reducing some of the burden of mundane or administrative tasks. The less you have to do, the more time you have to provide care.

Missing Piece offers a range of services that can help to ease that burden. We work with ABA service providers to handle many of their administrative and other tasks.

Learn why you should outsource some of these tasks to us. Contact us today to learn more.


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