Typically, health coaching is treated as an “add on” in functional medicine clinics. The doctor winds up having to sell the patient on coaching. But with patients already investing in out of pocket labs, supplements, and their provider’s time, people don’t want to spend the extra money. They say things like, “Why do I need to do the coaching? Why is that important? I just want to see you, doctor.”
That means most people never meet with a health coach… and that leads us right back to the problem. Patients come into the functional medicine system uneducated, unprepared, with unrealistic expectations, and oftentimes overwhelmed.
That’s why in my ‘“evolved health coach workflow” model for functional medicine clinics, there is no negotiation around health coaching: it is always step number one. When you book an appointment with the practitioner, you automatically have a call with the health coach first.
As a collaborative care team, practitioners and coaches can more easily travel the long road with this patient because the patient has been taught how to be their provider’s best partner. This is what makes Functional Medicine’s mutual participatory medical model unique and successful, the Therapeutic Partnership.
The practitioner can validate the health coaching during the appointment by saying something like: “I can tell all the great work you’ve done with your health coach. This is incredible, I’m so impressed. Look at all you’ve done. Tell me more about this. How are you feeling? Was this helpful?
“I’m including a follow-up coaching session to schedule with your health coach so we can continue building the momentum and work with you through your change process.”
The practitioner no longer has to sell health coaching, because patients have already met with the coach and seen the value firsthand, so booking on-going coaching becomes much easier, too. Thus, patient activation is optimized.
Health Coaching Is The Missing Piece In Your Practice
It’s a little unconventional, but when you start with health coaching, your patients see right from the beginning that you have their best interest in mind and aren’t just looking to sell them on the next thing. It increases loyalty, commitment, and trust. It makes your job easier.
But even more importantly, it gives your practice an advantage since the patient is welcomed into the functional medicine perspective, and from step one aligns their beliefs and values with their healing, not their illness.
As a health coach myself, I often share this with patients:
“It’s not just something that we’re doing. It’s something we are becoming, it’s our journey to becoming our best selves.”
As you become the best practitioner you can be, and evolve your dynamic practice, opening your mind to new ways of thinking about the structure of your practice is a necessity.
Implementing strategic health coaching is just one of the changes I work with my business coaching clients on to streamline and improve their practice. If you want to learn more check out the one-of-a-kind training manual How to Effectively Integrate a Health Coach into a Functional Medicine Practice.
Listen to Good Medicine on the go! Podcast with co-hosts Dr. Nathan Morris, MD, and Kara Ware, NBC-HWC