When it comes to wellness care, many medical providers talk the talk, but not as many walk the walk. If offering preventive and wellness care is a priority in your practice, there are a number of ways you can bring this concept to the forefront and help patients appreciate the fact that you’re serious about it. Here are seven ideas to consider:
- Stock your reception area with magazines that promote fitness, good nutrition, healthy aging and overall wellness. Choose carefully, however, because some of these types of publications are full of advertising for questionable supplements, gadgets and programs. If you can’t find magazines that feel like a good fit, books on wellness topics are a good alternative.
- Decorate exam rooms, hallways and the reception area with posters that offer tips on fitness and nutrition. Here’s an example of one that explains trans fats and is attractive and quick to read.
- Set up a display rack in your reception area stocked with free educational pamphlets for patients to take home. Rotate the offerings regularly to keep people interested in scanning the selection each time they visit your office. Possible topics could include nutritional data on food served in area restaurants and fast food establishments, a table displaying how many calories per hour different types of exercise burn, illustrations of simple yoga poses patients can do anywhere (even right in your office while waiting) and myths vs. facts about any number of health and wellness topics. Create your own or purchase materials on subjects of interest to your patient population. Here’s a sample, on choosing the proper fats to eat.
- Create a lending library of books on health and wellness topics. For less than $500, you can stock a library with 50 or more books for patients to check out, read and return to your office. Put a simple system in place to keep track of your books, but expect to lose a few each year to forgetful patients.
- Offer your office waiting room as a meeting place for weight loss and smoking cessation groups to meet. In addition, consider hosting your own wellness workshops from time to time, which is a value-add for existing patients and an excellent way to attract new ones. See this post for more information on offering educational seminars.
- Coordinate a walking club for patients interested in losing weight and/or improving their aerobic capacity or general fitness. Have groups meet in front of your office two or three days a week at a specified time (5:15 p.m., if you serve the nine-to-five working population, for example). Have one of your staff members lead the walk each day, and encourage doctors to join in as well.
- Lead by example by encouraging your staff and doctors to actively engage in their own health and wellness plans. Patients who know that the professionals who care for them take their own health seriously are more likely to listen to advice about what they need to do to take charge of their own bodies. Patients don’t want to be told by an overweight doctor that they need to drop a few pounds or be informed by a nurse who smells of cigarette smoke that their blood pressure is too high.