Health Practitioners Prescribing Lifestyle Changes|

by Cathy Sykora

Any health practitioner, will provide a benefit to your practice and your clients/patients health by adding a program to promote lifestyle changes.  It can be as simple as adding an online program with group peer support to adding counselors/coaches to the practice to work with patients in groups or individually.

We have doctors who are getting away from standard clinical practices and providing health coaching personally and we have doctors/dietitians/health coaches working together, each with a separate function and adding value to the practice by creating another layer of care.

Research shows that simple lifestyle changes like healthy eating, consistent exercise and physical activity, mindfulness, and staying active socially improves physical and mental well being.  

Progress

Thankfully, the wellness landscape is changing and more and more health practitioners are beginning to be more outspoken in the need for lifestyle changes.  

In addition to promoting lifestyle changes, and if you go beyond the lifestyle program to incorporating a live person to run your wellness program and consult with the patient, that same person can help to track understanding, compliance, and status.

This adds an additional two revenue streams for the practitioner, and better results for the patient/client.

Client/Patient Benefit

 If you’ve been considering adding wellness programs and/or coaching/ counseling to your practice, there are thousands of coaches who are available to work.  Coaching is a new field and there is more  

entrepreneurial opportunity than jobs.  This is what having a wellness program in place offers your patients/clients:

  • an advocate 
  • more time spent on their issues
  • less chance for patient error with follow up and reinforcement for “doctors orders”
  • setting goals
  • action steps
  • follow up
  • education 
  • support in making healthy lifestyle changes
  • small behavioral changes
  • increased trust
  • better health outcome
  • increased quality of life 

Benefits for You

Doctors with wellness programs and health counseling in place have added additional income to their practices in addition to more value to their patients according to studies.

  1. you have more control over the outcome
  2. communication is easier
  3. extra hands and eyes on patient/client for better care
  4. opportunity for internships
  5. more diverse appointment time for patients
  6. cuts workload for you
  7. adds potentially unlimited new revenue streams
  8. reduces liability with extra eyes and pro-active care
  9. adds to your reputation
  10. provides competitive advantage

You’ll have more time and your practice will have healthier patients overall.

Who it Benefits

Wellness programs can provide education, tools, the exchange of information that ultimately provides health creation instead of getting to the point where it is necessary to suppress symptoms and disease.

Many patients leave their visit and don’t know what to do and either don’t do anything or do the wrong thing.  They don’t understand the instructions or even the diagnosis.

Having a wellness program in place benefits a medical care practice and many of it’s patients:

  •  people who want to stay well
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • gut diseases
  • depression
  • chronic heart failure
  • cancer
  • asthma
  • behavioral health
  • chronic pulmonary disease
  • sleep deprivation
  • hypertension
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • neurological disease
  • chronic pain
  • other chronic illness

The Setup

There are a few ways to build a wellness program into your practice.  You’ll want a professional wellness program in place that aligns with the needs of your practice.

You will need an administrator and a coach/counselor.  It can be one person or two who are filling those positions.  There may be someone in place in your practice already.  They can:

  • work in the office
  • work offsite as a subcontractor

Your program should be delivered online.  The patient/client receives a username and password and in most cases, they will receive education modules, videos, audios, workbooks and supporting tools sequentially. 

Your patient/client should be put into a group of peers to support each other through the course.   This can be done in your own forum with practice management tools and administered by someone on your team.

Optionally, your patient/client should set up group or individual coaching/counseling.  This choice is where the extra level of personal care comes in.

This is all relative to your practice and the coach’s duties.  The numbers here are general.

Number of Patients per Health Coach/Counselor:

70 patients each, with one on one meeting

0 – 500 patients each, in online group coaching (maximum 6 to a group)

If you have patients with more complex problems, the numbers may be lower.

Breaking your patients into groups by disease or need works for most programs, there are others that don’t require that.

Your counselors/coaches come with many faces.  They can be educated by independent, for profit schools specifically to be health coaches.  There are many coaches who are doctors, chiropractors, nurses, registered dietitians and nutritionists, psychologists, personal trainers, ministers, and others.  The key is:

  • they have had coaching/counseling education and/or experience
  • they understand your scope of practice
  • they understand their scope of practice
  • they are willing and able to follow the wellness program you put in place

Each practice may benefit from different specializations.  If you’re an office with gastrointestinal patients, a nutritionist, dietitian, and/or gluten-free expert may be your best choices.  

You may want to put several other practitioners in place to help develop a well rounded wellness program.  If you work with obesity, you may want a dietitian, weight-loss specialist, personal trainer, diabetes counselor, and/or a lifestyle coach.

In the next few months, I’ll be adding details.  In the meantime, if you want to speed up the process, we’ve done it for you.  Visit our shop.

Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

President