Patient Retention – Part I 5/5 (40)

Man After WorkoutDo you have a successful “specialty” treatment program?

I like Specialty Treatment programs! From a marketing perspective, they are excellent tools. They effectively target a VERY specific audience. They are relatively easy to promote and are often associated with a very large support group from which to attract referrals.

Perhaps you invested in our Acupuncture Weight Loss Program last month? This blog is Part I of a two-part series that will help you improve the Patient Retention rate of whatever program you offer.

The only drawback to these programs is that they end.  Programs like those listed below are traditionally marketed and treated for a fixed time period. They have a beginning and an end.

Programs 2

These are all great programs but unfortunately, they come to an end…which means the income stops…and we have to go out and find new patients all over again!

Flowchart - Program sequence


How to transition participants from a specialty program to  Recovery or Preventative care.

Ask yourself: What do my patients REALLY want?

Maslows_Hierarchy_of_NeedsAccording to Abraham Maslow’s Heirarchy of Human Needs theory, he suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.

Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on. This five-stage model can be divided into basic needs and growth needs.

The basic needs motivate behavior when they are unmet.  The need to fulfill such needs will become stronger the longer they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food the more hungry they will become.

We must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been satisfied, we may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

What “level” are your patients at when they come to participate in your specialty program?

If they are in pain, they are clearly at the bottom level. Nothing else matters to them more than ending the torture. What about Weight Loss, Infertility or Cosmetic programs? These aren’t as easy to determine are they?

A Weight Loss participant could be at level 1, 2 3 or 4! If their excess weight prohibits sex, or adequate sleep (level 1). Their weight may affect their job or family (level 2). Perhaps they’re seeking better friendships, family relations or intimacy and believe losing weight will provide that (level 3). It’s possible they are fulfilled on all lower level needs and they now see mastery of their body as one of the final steps in self actualization (level 4 or 5).

Be assured that, in doing this analysis, you are not judging or labeling your patient, rather you are searching for their inner motivations. Knowing WHY your participants come to you is important to helping them make the transition to Recovery care and progress on to Preventative Care.Maslow Anchored need

Now that you’re thinking about your patients’ unspoken needs…

I want to share with you a pattern I’ve noticed as I’ve worked with practitioners and hundreds of patients.

Once a patient’s primary problem is resolved, they appear to have a dramatic personality shift. In reality, they are simply returning to their prior stage of progression. Take a look at the pyramid to the right.

A patient might be coming to see you for an inability to sleep (level 1). While their progression in life is actually at level 4. Once their problem is fixed, ALL of their motivations return to the prior level; like a bungy cord snapping back after being stretched!

Once you understand this concept, you can create a tailored system of information delivery that reaches your participants at their ACTUAL level of personal progression.

For example, compare how different the following emails would read.

• Example 1: an email explaining how continued care will improve the security of their job, home and family. (level 2)
• Example 2: an email explaining how continued care will improve their confidence, help them reach their goals and command the respect of others. (level 4)

In the examples above, each email is targeted to patients at different levels of progression. If you’ve properly targeted the message, it WILL resonate with them and motivate them to act.

AcuGraph & Laptop

Planting Seeds

As you get to know your program participants during the initial orientation, collect the necessary information for the NEXT stage of their progression, and begin the teaching process.

For example, if you’re running a Biggest Loser competition, you’ll want to take Height, Weight, Circumference, Body fat and AcuGraph measurements. The first 4 measures are specific to the weight loss program and should be measured once a week.

You’ll also want to perform an AcuGraph exam every visit. The participants will look forward to seeing their improvement. They will subconsciously come to measure their health by the improvement of their meridians, not by their body fat percentage or weight.

Different measures would apply to each unique program. For example, Stop Smoking participants would report to the group and receive recognition, Pain Relief participants would fill out a Pain Intensity survey, Infertility patients would turn in a body temperature log…etc.

Regardless which program you are running, performing an AcuGraph exam each visit will give them a new, enduring measure of health.

Give the participants something to identify potential problems that may hinder their progress. You want the participant to start thinking about more than the short-term goals of the program. AcuGraph reports create a new measure of health, apart from the goals of the Specialty program.

In Part II of this series, I’ll get into the details of how to use the AcuGraph to convert program participants to patients, and RETAIN them for Monthly Preventative care.

Click here for Patient Retention – Part II

Alan Thumbnail.


Alan Gifford, MS
Practice Coach
Miridia Technology

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Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach

For 20 years, Alan worked in the corporate world as a director of sales and marketing. He made a career change in 2003, returning to complete his Masters degree in Exercise and Wellness from Arizona State University. As a marketer and Exercise Physiologist, Alan spent the next four years working with Healthcare practitioners to increase patient volume, satisfaction and retention. He now works directly with clients of Miridia Technology to promote their practice and patient experience. In addition to English, he is fluent in Spanish and assists in developing our Latin-market presence.

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