Should Your Practice be Offering a Neuro-Wellness Program? (Plus: 3 Steps to Determine What Your Patients Really Need)
The healthcare environment is rapidly changing, and your patients are becoming more autonomous by the day.
They're seeking out resources and support and are looking for more options and services when it comes to their health and wellbeing. They're looking for long-term solutions and relationships with providers who can meet those needs.
As healthcare practitioners, we need to recognize these changes. In order to offer our patients what they truly need, we have to be willing and able to offer programs and services outside of 1-on-1 skilled rehabilitation. Not only is this a benefit for your clients, but it also helps ensure the long-term success of your practice in a world where we can no longer depend on insurance reimbursement to keep your clinic's doors open.
So, when I ask: "Should your practice offer Neuro-Wellness Programs?", the obvious answer is:
Absolutely. 100%. Yes.
Neuro-Wellness Programs: A Win-Win
A Neuro-Wellness Program (NWP) can be any ongoing product or service (virtual or in-person) that allows your clients the ability to improve their health and wellness outside of skilled rehabilitation services (PT, OT, SLP, etc.).
When it comes to our neurological patients, these ongoing programs are what they really need for long-term success after their diagnosis. Arguably, our patients need these services even more than the typical outpatient orthopedic patient.
Our neurological patients need:
- A higher level of support and guidance from healthcare professionals and the community at large,
- Ongoing / lifelong programs, resources, and support,
- Programs that stretch beyond just the patient (ie. support and recovery for caregivers),
- Virtual access to programs due to difficulty with transportation,
....and NWPs can fill those needs.
Not only do these services truly help our patients, but they are also a wonderful way to build your practice and diversify your practice's income. You're able to build long-term relationships with your patients and add additional sources of revenue to boost the financial health of your practice.
What would a NWP look like in your practice?
We're going to jump into 3 steps you can use to uncover what a NWP may look like in your practice in just a moment, but here are some examples of what myself and the other NeuroCollaborative founders have done to fill the needs of our clients:
At Invigorate PT and Wellness, I offer a 5-Week Online Parkinson's Booster Program: www.InvigoratePT.com/Booster
At re+active PT and Wellness, Julie and Erin offer Parkinson's Fitness Videos via a monthly subscription model: www.reactivept.com/online
At Rogue PT and Wellness, Claire offers group Parkinson's wellness classes on a pay-as-you-go basis: www.facebook.com/clairemcleanpt
Another great example from the NeuroCollab tribe:
- Nathan Coomer at Parkinson's Fitness Project offers an online program called The Daily Dose
(Do you offer a paid NWP in your practice? Share it with us in the comments section below!)
So, when is the best time to offer a NWP to your patients?
The answer to this question depends largely on your patient population and practice and could be 1) as a supplement during the time they're receiving skilled rehab treatment, 2) after they're discharged, or 3) as a stand alone product or service. Let's take a quick look at each.
AS A SUPPLEMENT
Supplementary NWPs can be offered to your patients that help them reach their individual goals.
Maybe they're coming to see you after a recent fall, but they also express interest in losing weight or learning more about nutrition. Offering a supplementary online education program to help them with those wellness goals and could be offered for an additional fee.
These online programs could also be something you offer to caregivers who are also very likely to need some extra wellness coaching to help keep them healthy and active.
As a neuro PT, you're very aware of the serious support your patients need when it comes to executing their home exercise program after discharge. Exercise adherence can be one of the most frustrating aspects of keeping our patients active and healthy for the long run.
Offering an online exercise NWP as an affordable continuation of their home exercise program can be a great way to keep them consistent. A subscription model works very well here, so long as you're willing and able to update content regularly with fresh and exciting options for your patients.
A bonus of a subscription-based NWP is that you can schedule monthly or quarterly emails to go out to your subscribers encouraging them to come in for a check-up with you at the clinic to make sure they're not regressing since discharge.
Another option for a post-discharge NWP could be group fitness classes at your clinic.
AS A STAND ALONE
Sometimes there will be people who reach out to you as the expert in your community who end up deciding that they don't want to (or can't) come see you in your brick-and-mortar space. This is an excellent opportunity to offer them an online NWP that helps them meet their goals from afar and still connects them with you and your clinic.
Are you sold on the value of offering a NWP at your practice? If so, the next step is figuring out how to best serve your patients with the products and services you create.
3 Steps to Determine What Your Patients Need in a NWP
Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Client
First, ask yourself: Who is the person you're most well positioned to serve?
This person is known as your "ideal client" and will be who you build your NWP around.
Take a reflective look on your practice and your patient population. Who do you love working with that gets the best results?
Next, ask yourself: What does this person really WANT?
Please note: This is different than what you think they need. Too often we get caught up offering our patients what we think they need (more exercise, more vegetables, more sleep), and instead miss out on listening to what our clients really want (more independence to travel the world, the ability to walk down the isle with their daughter, or play on the ground with their grand-kids).
When you figure out what they want you can build your NWP to fulfill those desires by delivering what they need.
Identify down to the minute detail who your ideal client is. How old are they? How long have they been diagnosed? Are they still working? Retired? Are they married? Do they have kids? Get very specific about who they are and what they want out of life.
Then you're ready to move onto Step 2....
Step 2: Survey Your Ideal Client
The best way to figure out what your ideal client really wants is to ask them.
You can use a free service like Survey Monkey to set up a basic questionnaire to send out via email to your patients who fit your "ideal client" description above.
Your goal with this survey is to identify what challenges they're facing, what they're struggling with (when it comes to their mobility and their life), and what role they're expecting you to play in their life.
This episode of the Mind Your Business Podcast (called Breakthroughs with Surveys) is an excellent resource when it comes to crafting your ideal client survey, including 6 potent questions you can include.
One golden question I found incredibly insightful within my practice was this:
"If you could wave a magic wand to abolish only one of your symptoms, which would it be?"
Another one that is very similar but a little more far-reaching is:
"When it comes to __________ , what is the number one biggest struggle or frustration you have right now?"
Make sure your survey questions are open-ended and encourage participants to go into detail. Follow-up with clients who take your survey to dive deeper into what they're really struggling with (within the arena you're able to serve them). Skype or Google Hangouts are a very powerful way to get in-depth information from people that will eventually flow into a robust NWP as well as free content (blog posts, workshops, FB LIVE events, etc.) that you can use to market your NWP in the future.
(As a side note: If you're still struggling to figure out who your ideal client is, you can survey your entire patient list and ask them some basic information to get an idea of who is coming to see you on a regular basis.)
The key here is to be open-minded to the answers you hear from your clients. They may express needs that you were not expecting but that you can still fill. Often times we have an idea of what we think they need and that biases the questions we ask. Be aware of this and try not to ask leading questions!
Step 3: Test-RUN your NWP IDEA
What kind of answers did your survey turn up?
As your NWP is starting to take shape, consider:
- Is this best as an in-person service? an online product? a subscription model? Something else?
- When would clients take the program? during PT? independent of PT? After PT?
- Do these clients need videos? handouts? audio recordings? in-person calls?
- What platforms are your ideal clients most comfortable with? Social media? email? phone? Skype? YouTube?
Once you have an idea of what your ideal client wants help from you with, it's time to create what's known as a "minimum viable product", or MVP, of your NWP to validate the idea.
It's not wise to immediately invest a bunch of time and money into a NWP (especially an online one) before you're 100% sure that it's what your clients want or need.
Here are some ways to test-run your NWP idea:
- Create a series of blog posts on the topic and send them out to your patients,
- Share the blog posts on your Facebook page or Twitter,
- Put on a free workshop in your clinic on the topic,
- Offer a free class at your clinic (if your NWP is a class-based service),
- Share a series of exercise videos on YouTube, your blog, and social media channels,
- Search for other products/services that are similar to your NWP idea,
- Promote and host a live Q&A via FB LIVE on the topic of your NWP
Gauge the responses you get. Interact with people who respond, ask questions, or comment on your information. Follow-up with them to see what they found valuable. Test out various platforms (starting with the ones your ideal client is most likely hanging out on) to see if the method of delivery determines the level of interaction.
This process of testing and validating your idea is a complex one. It takes time to figure out what your clients really want and need, but in the end it's worth the investment!
In my next post and Facebook live event (April 24th), I'll be talking about the next step which has to do with building and marketing your NWP once you've established exactly what you're offering.
Join us on the NeuroCollaborative Facebook page for a LIVE discussion about NWPs on Monday, March 13th at 6:30PM PST / 8:30 PM CST / 9:30 PM EST.
Resources that may inspire you
- Aaron Lebauer's interview with Greg Todd about the role online wellness programs play in his private practice
- Smart Passive Income Episode 128: Manu Kalia at TriDosha Wellness about his "Build Better Knees" program
- Ann Wendel, PT, discusses what "wellness" means in the PT world in this article on WebPT
Until next time—keep your #iloveneuro spirit strong and keep changing lives!!
Sarah King, PT, DPT