Ahh, New Year’s resolutions. Everyone begins the year so committed, so hopeful and so diligent. According to Nielsen, the two most popular resolutions in the United States are “staying fit and healthy” and “losing weight.” As a physician, that’s likely music to your ears.
Now for the not-so-great news: Research also says 25 percent of people who make health resolutions can’t even make it through the first two weeks. Given that we’re already nearly a month into the new year, 1 in 4 have likely already thrown in the towel.
Luckily, there’s still time to get your patients back on track and committed to preventive care in 2016. Here are a few ways you can increase their success rate.
Take it One Step at a Time
More often than not, the reason people fail at resolutions is because they set goals too high. While it’s great to shoot for the stars, unrealistic objectives can lead to resolution burnout. Just as you probably couldn’t have passed the MCAT on your first day of pre-med, your patients need to know what’s possible in the short-term. Help them refine their objectives. Set one goal, but also set smaller, quarterly benchmarks.
For example, if your patient wants to lose 60 pounds this year, set a goal of 15 pounds every three months. Once he begins making progress, he’ll be even more committed to the end-goal.
Help Patients Keep Track
When it comes to keeping resolutions, accountability is key—not only to you and their loved ones, but to themselves. A tracking method is a great way to help patients develop self-discipline around their health.
For example, if your patient’s goal is to lower her cholesterol, a healthy diet is key. Ask the patient to track daily foods in a diary or fitness app. It’s a lot easier to resist the temptation of a greasy, fast-food dinner when you know you’ll have to track it afterward.
Make it a Group Effort
Support is critical to success in any goal, but especially a new year’s health resolution. While you and your team are committed to your patient's’ goals, you need to make sure their usual support system is also on board. This is especially important if you’re working with a particularly stubborn patient.
For example, let’s say your patient wants to reduce his blood pressure. You may suggest that he eliminate unnecessary stressors, commits to a balanced diet and begin exercising regularly. These lifestyle changes are much easier when the people around you have your back. Include approved family members in the care plan so they can offer continued guidance and support between visits.
Make Regular Check-Ups Part of the Plan
Even when patients are fully committed to their health, they still have a hard time making it in for annual or bi-annual checkups. These appointments can be a great method of keeping patients on track, so it’s crucial that checkups are part of their resolution.
To encourage your patients to visit regularly, send reminders, keep the dialogue open and, most importantly, ensure each trip to your office is a pleasant experience by utilizing patient comfort solutions.
Sticking with a New Year’s resolution isn’t easy but, with your assistance, your patients can commit to a healthy lifestyle. By using the above methods, you can help your patients reach their goal and make 2016 their healthiest year yet.
Keeping your patients happy and healthy is key to a successful practice. For more tips on improving your practice this year, check out our free eBook, Stop the Budget Bleed: How Private-Practice Physicians Can Reduce Spend!