We all know that the golden ‘triangle’ for optimal outcomes consists of treatment, supervised exercises AND self-care such as the execution of a prescribed home exercises program.
Treatments for injuries or chronic conditions are major energy and time commitment for our patients. But if they don’t stick to their appointments or to their prescribed ‘homework,’ patient satisfaction and results will suffer.
That’s why Patient Engagement is such an important yet often not enough emphasized factor of treatment.
On the good site, we know from studies that access to relevant resources can increase patient engagement and self-efficacy. We also see an increasing number of patients that is open to use technology to gather and track health and wellness related data.
So now we must find a way to make data access as well as data tracking part of our treatment plans. This does not have to be delivered by a high-tech solution, but it should be documented and trackable.
Here some ideas that can help to increase your patient engagement:
- Take enough time on educating them on their condition and their part of the treatment process. Make sure they understand that their success depends not only on the treatment they receive but also on their own contribution.
- Provide them with a detailed treatment plan including appointments as well as things they are required to do at home. Be specific about dates and for example the exact set and reps of the exercises you want them to do.
- Less is more! Make sure you develop and agree upon a realistic plan together. When it comes to home exercise programming, give your patients 2 – 3 exercises to start with. Try to choose exercises that don’t need any equipment. This will create a positive experience and make them feel that they CAN do it. Once patients are used to doing regular exercises, you can start increasing volume and complexity.
- Make them document their executed homework and take some minutes to discuss the progress at the beginning of each treatment session.
- Do regular assessments that provide you and your patients with data that document their changes and acknowledge their efforts.
- Utilize social media / waiting room materials to remind your patients on how important their contribution and commitment is when it comes to create optimal treatment outcomes.
And lastly: remind patients that it’s easier and less painful to go through some minutes of exercises a day and stick to their appointments for some weeks than being stuck in an injury or not being able to prevent surgery. When I was a kid, my dad once told me: isn’t it better to brush your teeth for 2 minutes than being at the dentist for 2 hours? I think he had a point!