How to Build Great Relationships with your Weight Loss Patients for Optimal Outcomes & Referrals
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
The relationship you and your team have with your weight loss patients impacts their overall outcome, level of satisfaction, likelihood to refer others and ultimately, your bottom line.
Relationship is the way in which two people or groups feel and behave towards each other. Relationships are built on trust and can determine potential success or risk of failure for any business. They can also create a sense of joy or every day frustration for you in your practice and your life.
Studies have shown that the doctor-patient relationship has an impact on patient outcomes.1 For weight loss practitioners, this relationship involves patient vulnerability balanced by trust in you and your services in order to overcome their often long-term physical and emotional battle with obesity. Yet, the impact of your relationship extends far beyond their weight loss outcomes and begins before they have their first actual provider visit.
What are the Benefits of Having a Great Relationship with your Weight Loss Patients?
As you know, your patients have a choice. They are sensitive to rising health care costs and yet, are willing to invest in a weight loss program (medically supervised or not) that they believe will help them achieve their goals in the quickest and safest way possible. In fact, they are so interested, the weight loss industry was worth about $71 billion in 2020.2
The best way for you to attract, help and retain weight loss patients is by building a great relationship with them and consistently nurture your relationship along the way. If you accomplish this, you can enjoy many benefits such as:
- Better Patient Outcomes: As you know, great relationships are built on trust. When your patients trust you, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say, appreciate your accountability and follow your recommendations.
- More Patient Referrals: When patients have a great patient experience and get the results they desire, they are more likely to complete a five-star online review, agree to a testimonial and refer their family and friends who also desire successful weight loss and better health.
- Greater Revenue/Profit: The lifetime value in terms of revenue from your patients begins with their first purchase and turns into repeat revenue as your positive relationship continues. This repeat revenue comes from your ongoing services, your great products and purchases from other additional relevant revenue streams you offer. However, be sure to review your revenue streams closely to ensure that they are showing a profit or such a value add that it drives more business to your most profitable revenue stream.
- Higher Degree of Satisfaction for You, Your Team and Your Patients: Great, trusting, positive relationships bring satisfaction not only for your patients but for you and your entire team. It elevates the ‘vibe’ in your office and attracts more of the same making your practice a much more enjoyable place to be.
How do you build a Positive Relationship with your Weight Loss Patients?
You and your team have many opportunities to build or break relationships with your patients. Here are best practices to employ throughout every phase of your journey together to build a lasting positive relationship. These phases include your patients experience (both online and onsite) prior to becoming a patient, during their weight loss phase and throughout their maintenance phase and beyond.
- Listen: Everyone is busy and as an expert, you have solutions you want to share. However, your patients want you to listen to their unique situation, show empathy and then prescribe the treatment that will enable them to meet or exceed their goals. As a bonus, listening also helps you find the exact topics you may need to include in your educational program, blogs, videos and other marketing efforts to further improve outcomes and attract more patients.
- Employ Open and Honest (Easy to Understand) Communication: This is recommended for all forms of communication (verbal/written) no matter how it is delivered (video, blog, e-mail, phone conversation, 1:1, membership sites, your app, etc.) Over-complicating creates mixed messages, confusion and lack of decision-making action for your patient.
- Simplify How to Achieve Their Desired Outcome: When people are faced with overwhelming information or choices, they take no action or go into analysis paralysis. Even though you know long-term weight loss is challenging, the simpler your program is to understand, the more patients you will attract that will actually feel empowered to follow-through.
- Build Mutual Respect and Trust in a Safe Environment: Patients with obesity can feel depressed, anxious, down trodden, over-looked and misunderstood. Providing a safe environment during a vulnerable time, listening and providing exact steps (including accountability) for success goes a long way in building a long-lasting relationship.
- Offer What they Want as Well as What They Need (Anticipate Their Needs): When you understand your ideal patients well, you will keep them engaged by quick weight loss wins (what they want) for motivation balanced with how to do the work without giving in to their barriers to success through coaching and education (what they need).
- Offer Convenience: As you build your customized, yet systematized weight loss program, it is important to offer your services and products in a variety of online and onsite ways for added convenience and likelihood of follow-through.
- Keep them Accountable/Provide Ongoing Support: Engagement and long-term relationships are built when you help your patients overcome barriers to weight loss that have plagued many of them most of their life. This is best accomplished through personalized coaching/accountability and ongoing support (support group, e-newsletters, onsite & online education).
- Sell Without Being Salesy: When you and your team believe in your services and products, you can sell easily without feeling salesy. Confidence is combined with an intense desire to help those that need you most — a great combination.
- Realize that Not Everyone is a Fit for Your Practice: This can be difficult to employ. However, understanding that your practice may not be a fit for everyone can save you and the patients that are best served elsewhere much frustration and disappointment.
While these best practices may seem simplistic, you would be amazed at how often they are overlooked or underestimated. When you and your team employ them consistently, the benefits identified above occur more often and practice growth occurs in a natural and enjoyable way.
For 45 years, Robard Corporation’s medical obesity treatment programs and products have been utilized by physicians, surgeons and hospitals across the United States to successfully treat patients living with obesity. To learn more about us and how we can help your practice and patients, visit us online at www.Robard.com.
About the Author: Karol Clark, MSN, RN, is a best-selling author who has a passion for helping physicians integrate effective, profitable weight loss services and retail sales into their practice while improving patient outcomes and enjoying the journey along the way. Her use of non-traditional (easy to implement) medical marketing strategies, along with her dedication to a positive ROI makes her a uniquely different and sought after weight loss business consultant. Karol is the CEO of Weight Loss Practice Builder and the exclusive membership program for weight loss practitioners, www.BariatricBusinessBoss.com. She has more than 20 years of experience working with surgical and medical weight loss patients and assisting physicians build an enjoyable bariatric practice.