The Benefits of Mapping Out Your Ideal Weight Loss Patient Experience
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Mapping out your ideal weight loss patient experience has many benefits for your patients and your team while contributing to your overall practice success.
Mapping out an ideal weight loss patient experience means having a well-defined algorithm of care that efficiently and effectively guides your patients to success. It is a combination of carefully choreographed encounters that create predictable outcomes based upon best practices. When executed properly, it also creates a lasting positive impression.
Think about your favorite restaurant, hotel, cruise line, grocery store or online shopping experience. In all likelihood, you enjoy them because there is a standard that you have come to appreciate and expect. Your experience is consistent and predictable — in ways you enjoy. If there is ever an issue, it is likely taken care of efficiently, with respect, and results in an outcome that leaves your positive impression intact. While there is team personality variation, your experience is consistently enjoyable.
While individual patient health issues and expectations vary, your entire patient journey deserves the same choreographed attention. This includes aspects such as marketing messaging, initial contact, consultation, plan of care, treatment options, monitoring and ongoing support. Empathy and personalized care are not minimized; rather, they are integrated into each step along the way. The expected and sometimes unexpected benefits for your patients, your team, and your overall practice success are many.
Benefits of a Defined Plan of Care for Weight Management Patients
- Consistent Quality Care: A streamlined pathway of care — based upon best standards and what you feel is best for your patients — helps your patients receive consistent quality care with each encounter. Your team is able to guide them with regards to their current plan, as well as what to expect as you continue your provider-patient relationship towards health goal attainment.
- Motivation and Support: Your patients will feel a higher degree of motivation because they will see better results and feel supported. This is because they know exactly what to expect now and in the future. No one really likes surprises, especially when it comes to health care.
- Improved Outcomes: Patients tend to have better outcomes when they understand their plan of care, are motivated and feel supported.
- Enhanced Provider-Patient Relationship: When patients feel heard, informed, and experience quality care, it tends to enhance their relationship with their provider and everyone in your practice involved in providing and/or supporting their care.
- Higher Patient Satisfaction: All of the aforementioned factors can’t help but lead to a higher degree of patient satisfaction. When you effectively and efficiently help your patients improve their health and attain the transformation they desire, everyone experiences a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Benefits of a Defined Plan of Care for Your Team
- Streamlined Workflow/Increased Efficiency: Having a documented plan of care that outlines optimal patient progression through your program (as well as best practices), streamlines the workflow of your team. In turn, this enhances their efficiency and allows you to also streamline documentation, patient education, scheduling and all communication as well. The importance of this impact cannot be understated.
- Clear Lines of Responsibility: Mapping your ideal patient experience helps differentiate team member roles and responsibilities. While you may still cross-train your team, having this clear understanding helps your team function as a well-oiled operation.
- Simplified Team Onboarding and Orientation: There are many facets that influence the creation of a positive new team member onboarding and orientation process. Using your patient care algorithm as an integral part of this process helps in many ways. It clarifies expectations, team roles, and gives your new team member the ability to share a fresh perspective for aspects that are working well and set them up to more comfortably share suggestions for ongoing tracking and improvement.
- Greater Degree of Collaboration, Ownership and Creativity: Having your entire team involved and making sure they all are a part of your optimal patient experience allows them to collaborate together to implement and continually improve the process. As an integral and respected part of the team, they are more likely to exhibit ownership for things that go well, and take responsibility for issues that may arise. When they are not overwhelmed by constantly changing protocols, it allows them to exhibit a greater degree of creativity as well.
- Improved Team Satisfaction: All of these aspects tend to improve team satisfaction which is a positive driver for everyone in your practice. You spend less time putting out fires and more time measuring, interpreting, and celebrating what matters most.
Benefits of a Well-Defined Patient Experience for a Weight Management Practice
- Positive Patient Reviews, Testimonials and Referrals: One of the greatest ways to grow your practice is through social proof. This is extremely important to patients seeking the services you offer as well as those currently under your care. Be sure to ask your happy patients to share their experience and make it easy for them to complete a review, submit a testimonial and refer other people to you and your practice.1
- Outstanding Reputation and Differentiation from Competitors: As patients share their experience with family, friends and other physicians, your reputation as the preferred weight loss provider in your community grows. In addition, by focusing on the patient experience, you can set your practice apart from your competitors who may not prioritize this aspect of care. This helps to attract new patients while retaining existing patients.
- Quicker Practice Growth: Combine these benefits and it is an algorithm for exponential practice growth as well. As this happens, be sure to monitor key performance indicators to track your success and areas that may need modifications.
- Predictable Profitability: There are a number of factors that affect practice profitability, such as your volume, pricing structure, reimbursement, cost of goods sold, payroll, overhead, and other operating expenses. As your practice evolves, be sure to monitor these costs and course correct as needed.
- Greater Lifetime Value of Your Patients: Happy and satisfied patients tend to stay with your practice longer, refer others, and desire other complimentary services you may offer. Track your “big spenders.” Be sure to thank them and ask for their input regarding their experience and other products or services they may be searching for that you may be able to provide.
How to Create Your Ideal Weight Loss Patient Experience
To create your ideal weight loss patient experience, begin with setting the stage with your team. Discuss the importance of creating your algorithm of care — or modifying your existing one — to ensure it is patient focused and based upon best practices, while infused with your core values and personality. Request your team’s input and ideas for optimizing your care delivery system; they must be included in order to ensure a realistic and positive outcome as well as an optimal understanding and ownership for implementation.
If you have one documented, review your current patient care algorithm together. If not, map it out together as it is today. Then discuss relevant patient feedback and ways to make improvements. Ensure the entire team is on board and understands the need for consistency. In addition, discuss any potential modifications along with clear rationale for such.
Build key performance indicators to measure success such as patient outcomes, patient satisfaction surveys, online reviews, new patient consults, lifetime value of the patient and practice profitability. Review these with your team weekly or monthly and modify as needed. Celebrate your successes together and seek feedback. Integrate your patient care algorithm in team trainings and onboarding of all new employees. While this may sound potentially overwhelming, it is easier than you may think and enjoyable for everyone involved. The benefits will far outweigh your time investment.