The power of engagement – boosting client uptake of disease prevention programs

It’s human nature to resist change whether it’s the best thing for us or not. Current guidelines in chronic disease clinics follow the RACGP guidelines and can be very prescriptive in their approach.

If we all did what we knew to be the “right thing” in terms of our health, then we wouldn’t be experiencing the current health crisis. Initiating is the hardest part and if clients feel they have a practitioner who is championing their cause and listening to them, this can make a massive difference to getting started. Clients can feel disillusioned by being told the same thing over and over again, and often dis-engage as a result.

Having engaged clients is a tricky business but do-able if we allow clients to take charge of their own health outcomes. Giving them a chance to be heard and implement some changes, no matter how small, can have a massive impact on their daily lives. Allowing them to express their concerns for their own health, work through their ambivalence and create their own attainable goals is the most powerful thing we can do with our clients.

If clients feel coming to the preventative disease clinic has some benefit for them, you will witness uptake with the program and see the positive results in their clinical outcomes. The benefits can be wide ranging. We are noticing a current trend in our preventative disease clinic for identifying underlying mental health issues that were going unrecognised.

Experience tells me that the clients who need to come and see me most in the preventative disease clinic are the ones who say they are not interested in the program or continue to cancel their appointments. As a GP, you have the opportunity to target these clients. We’ve found this approach works well: meeting and greeting these clients with the nurse clinic practitioners face-to-face at a GP consultation. This interaction can reduce the client’s fear and start to develop a very important relationship in which the client feels safe and comfortable to explore their wellbeing with an experienced practitioner.

The most common reason for fear and dis-engagement is the judgement and shame that clients feel about their current circumstances. We can help them explore and treat these underlying issues to re-engage them with their current health issues. This is extremely powerful and, I believe, essential to the success of any preventative disease clinic.

To know more skills on how to engage and empower your clients call 0408174231 for a free 15 minute consultation with Kim Poyner, founder and director of MediCoach.