Seeing the Big Picture is always helpful
The Institute for Functional Medicine and private practices create amazing patient materials.
I think of the patient tools as “Stars” and this Functional Medicine Care Planner as the “Constellation.”
The Functional Medicine Care Planner is a tool to document, track, and budget all of the pieces to the patient’s personalized care plan. It provides a total overview of the patient’s plan.
Are we creating more reliance on screen time?
As your phone is with you all the time, planning apps have recurring reminders/ding to remind you to take out your dog or work on your finances for the month. Isn’t it convenient?
But wait… Aren’t we encouraging patients to limit screen time? With all the digital wellness apps, are we promoting reliance and dependency on our phones?
Writing things down enables a higher level of thinking, and therefore, more focused action.
You’ve probably heard this one, and it’s true – writing stuff down actually helps you memorize it better.
Many studies prove this and one by Dominican University of California found that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with others, and maintained accountability for their goals were 33% more likely to achieve them, versus those who just formulated goals in their head. Note that!
In stress therapy, journaling is promoted exactly because of the activities healing properties.
The Functional Medicine Planner is a tool patients use to facilitate being the provider’s best partner. Patients document what they are willing to do and track when they add or stop a supplement or intervention. In addition, they track the frequency of their symptoms, organize and prioritize their interventions, and budget for the out-of-pocket medical expenses.
When patients really start to learn and write why they’re taking the supplements, and why they are choosing to change nutrition and other lifestyle factors, that belief, or that value essence of their care plan, is constantly being embedded. I share with patients, Functional Medicine is not something we try or something we do, it’s the process of becoming our best self.
Eliciting Support rather than Defensiveness from our Inner Circle
It’s common for friends/family/co-workers to challenge our patients because they are going against the cultural norm. I like to work with patients on the neurolinguistic programming of word choice to elicit support, rather than defensiveness from their inner circle. For example, instead of saying “I can’t eat that,” I ask the patient how can you reframe that to evoke support. Most patients immediately say, “I choose this because of this___.” Awesome. Write that down. This process has the patient working on strengthening their belief system and communicate the meaning of why they are choosing the Functional Medicine process.
When the patient talks to their extended family and their circle of influence, they’re finding a lot less resistance from those environmental influences because they’re empowered with why they are choosing the functional medicine tenants and it makes absolute sense to the people who are listening.
It even piques their family’s or friends’ interest because you know they are also living with chronic symptoms. This is a good way a Health Coach can help increase word-of-mouth referrals, and the planner helps considerably.
Budget is another word for Plan
Also, when patients are encouraged to budget their expenses and to ask the provider what is an immediate priority and what is for future consideration, is not watering down the provider’s protocol. It’s making sure that the personalized plan is actually within the parameters that a patient can sustain. We must address a huge underlying source of inflammation-FINANCES! The more comfortable we can become talking about financial budgeting, and that a patient can voice what they are willing to spend, then it truly has become their personalized plan. This moves us further away from the conventional trap of prescribing and treating, and more centered in the Functional Medicine’s equal partnership model.
Therapeutic Partnerships are the key to making Functional Medicine Successful
We encourage patients to have the planner at each follow-up appointment. This makes it easy to update their supplements, medications in the EMR, plus to have the updates of when they started and stopped certain nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
Again, this partnership tool is helping the patient do a lot of the talking in a follow-up appointment by prompting them to share what they are doing, how it’s going, challenges that have surfaced, and what support they need to circumnavigate those challenges. It also helps them think about what to do next regarding modifiable lifestyle factors. With this information, the provider can time lifestyle medical recommendations based on the patient’s current readiness and prevent a financial crisis.
Functional Medicine is a process. Therefore, we must remember that incremental steps are more sustainable than trying to do too much too soon, risking losing the patient’s trust and partnership.
You can purchase planners wholesale just like supplements, and then offer it for the suggested retail cost of $35.
Listen to our podcast, Good Medicine on the Go, with Dr. Nathan Morris, MD, and Kara Ware, NBC-HWC