An educated patient is a compliant patient. The most important step in getting your patients to comply is educating them. This should be done in several ways.
- Your website should be an encyclopedia of information. Aside from the usual general information, it should include an educational blog as well as a patient testimonials page. Have all new patients submit their name and email online in order to get access to your office forms. Once you have their email address, they should immediately start receiving an educational newsletter from your office. The newsletter serves to continually educate your patients while branding your office. To see a prime example of this set up visit – http://towncenterwellness.com/
- When they come in for their visits it is imperative that you book plenty of time to educate them about their condition, labs, etc. Do not cut this part out. Do not make the mistake of assuming that they know what you do and cheat them out of a good explanation.
- Use visuals. Most people are visual learners. The creative use of pictures and diagrams helps them to better understand and subsequently comply.
The following is a list of diagram visuals you can use to help better educate your patients:
- Magnesium deficiency
- Estrogen Metabolism and Nutrition
- Nutrition and Infertility
- Nutrition and Thyroid Function
The most common excuse I here from doctors about patient compliance to treatment is – “I can’t get my patient to spend that much money.” It is not uncommon in my office for new patients to spend several thousand dollars on the day of their first appointment. I follow a specific protocol with every new patient to make sure of the following:
- All patients must fill out a very comprehensive questionnaire before I will see them. This ensures that they have thought about their health issues thoroughly before ever coming into the office.
- They understand that they are in my office because conventional measures failed them.
- They understand the philosophy of the Triangle of Health (see diagram)
- Educate, Educate, Educate – when a patient knows what, why, how, etc compliance is increased dramatically.
- They understand what tests are being ordered and why. For this I use a lab packet handout for them to take home.
Educate Your New Patients Using Core Influence over The Triangle of Health – (Video Here…)
The basis for practicing functional medicine vs. traditional medicine is in the holistic approach. Traditional medicine focuses on treating symptoms vs. identifying and treating the origins of disease. For example – when a patient is diagnosed with hypertension, medications are prescribed to lower blood pressure. Typically, the doctor does not investigate why the blood pressure is high in the first place. Thus the patient is forever dependent on the drug to keep his/her blood pressure normal. Functional medicine asks the question – “What is causing this person’s blood pressure to go up?” From there a holistic investigation can take place as to the root cause of the clinical abnormality.
The Triangle of Health
DNA is inherited. It cannot be changed, but it can be influenced by the environment. This influence has been studied and labeled epigenetics. As the diagram shows, the three main environmental influences on our DNA are biochemistry, physical, and mental.
Biochemistry refers to the elements coming in to the body that alter our chemistry directly. We can explain chemistry to our patients in a simple manor. Chemistry = things that we ingest or are exposed to that either hurt us or help us.
Helpful to chemistry –
- Whole, non-processed, organic foods that we are not intolerant/allergic/sensitive to. These provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that promote good health.
- Clean pure water and water
- Adequate rest
Harmful to chemistry –
- Processed foods, non organic foods
- Foods we are allergic/intolerant/sensitive to
- Polluted air
- Polluted water
Simply put, physical refers to structure/function relationships in the body. ~Square tires don’t role ~
The shape or structure dictates how something will function. For example, obesity is a structural problem. Excessive weight on the frame can elevate blood pressure, reduce mobility, and tax the immune system. Another example is scoliosis. Scoliosis (even minor ones) can create somatovisceral disease complexes that mimic organ disease. Examples of this issue can be viewed here.
Psychological (Spiritual/Mental) –
Many doctors tell their patients that they are crazy or depressed and prescribe a medication. In my experience most patients are not crazy; they are frustrated with the lack of help that mainstream medicine has given them. This mental stress and frustration is a major contributor to illness. Additionally, spiritual/mental refers to relationships with god, family members, friends, work, etc. As the old saying goes – “You are who you hang out with.”
Putting the Pieces Together –
It is important to explain to your patients that each side of the triangle will affect the other (note the arrows on the diagram). For example, if you have an obese patient with chronic headaches that are exacerbated by exercise, you will need to let them know that they are in a viscous cycle and that you have the tools and diagnostic ability to help them break it.
**Before spending a full hour with your new patients, the pyramid philosophy should be explained to them at the beginning during their first consultation so that you can weed out those who do not share your holistic ideology. If the patient is not a match for your office, kindly agree to part ways with them. You do not want to have to battle your patients on every recommendation that you will be making to them. Knowing that they are on the same page as you will save you both a lot of time and frustration. Not every person that comes into your office will see eye to eye with you. That is OK. Just don’t waste your time trying to convince someone who obviously won’t comply with your treatment recommendations.