The Art of Patient Compliance: Empowering Practice Tools
As integrative practitioners, we all strive to find the most efficient and effective ways to educate, motivate and otherwise assist our patients in positively nudging the multitude of choices they make every day toward more healthy ones.
If integrative medicine is going to transform society, this may be one of our biggest areas to create an impactful difference—by helping change the behavior of our patients, from taking a walk, to taking their supplements, to taking a deep breath, to taking a leap to a healthier lifestyle.
Even the smallest suggestion of change however can feel like a chasm of uncertainty and fear to a patient, because it’s human nature to not want to fail. The uncertainty of change coupled with unsuccessful past attempts at change, can create a mound of resistance to the very outcome the patient seeks.
So how can we make change easier for patients?
A common inclination for practitioners is to educate more! Bill Fordyce1 often said that “education is to behavior change, as spaghetti is to bricks!” If education was a linchpin of behavior change, you would think that the warning label on a pack of cigarettes would be a huge deterrent to use! Not so much.
For change to be “easier” the benefit requires a small space of time between information or action and reward. Removing the barriers between these variables is commonly called “convenience”. There are many technology based practice tools that can help us as practitioner to reduce the barriers of change for our patients.
Here is one example, played out in two scenarios:
Scenario #1: Your patient receives supplements associated with a new protocol you provided just two days prior, but they can’t find the instruction sheet you gave them for appropriate dosage, timing or frequency for each product. It is Friday evening and your office is closed on weekends. The patient will either “guess” on dosing, or they must wait to talk to you or your staff on Monday morning before they can start their new protocol.
Scenario #2: You are utilizing an online patient dispensary; your patient receives their supplements but cannot find their dosing instructions. They simply login through the patient portal of your online dispensary and download the instruction sheet associated with their protocol. Your patient doesn’t have to wait, doesn’t have to guess at dosing and is empowered to start their protocol immediately—instant reward.
Another barrier to change success is “connection”. In a world where technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, being able to connect your medicine with your patients has become almost an expectation. So you’ve built a fantastic website and populate it with great content; both extremely important, but both are primarily passive.
So here is a thought experiment: compliance is a by-product of the interaction between 1) the relationship you have with your patients, 2) the ease in which they can connect with your office or information you’ve provided specific to them and 3) enhances convenience associated with their care—what practice tool facilitates all the above?
Several come to mind, but the easiest to implement would definitely be an online dispensary.
And it’s important to remember that an online dispensary is not an e-commerce store, because your patients do not have to put the effort into deciding what product(s) they need. You the practitioner delivers that to them via a recommendation sent within your online dispensary. Patients can place orders 24/7, at their convenience and as well as review any messages, notes, programs or other communications you have sent them.
The power within empowerment lives within the perception of control. And when your patients have access to your specific recommendations, programs and the supplements that are a part of their wellness program, everyone wins.
Start now with Emerson Ecologics’ online patient dispensary: wellevate℠
1) Fordyce, Wilbert (Bill), University of Washington faculty member who did pioneering work on the psychology of chronic pain. Author of “Putting Pain in its Place”. [1923-2009]
By Julie Beck, DC, MS, CSCS