Putting Patient Tools to Work

 In Practice Building

5 Reasons Naturopathic Doctors Should Curate their Patient Education

James Maskell

Every doctor knows, at the Latin root of his or her profession, doctor means teacher. That aspect of the art of medicine has been somewhat lost in our current, patriarchal medical system. Patient education has been a central focus of naturopathic practices since their inception. Effective patient education about the innate healing capacity of the body can help patients live longer, healthier lives, and with the current state of food, medicine, and society in general, we need effective patient education more than ever.

In the past, this education has taken many forms, from one-on-one, to handouts, wall charts, books, group orientations, and patient advocacy. However, the digital revolution has opened up new opportunities and allows for much more effective and efficient education. Curation is now the key skill: pulling together and sifting through information to present to others. You will not be surprised to learn that the root of the word “curate” is “care”— something else that doctors should be doing but which seems to have gotten lost in modern medicine.

Five Top Reasons to Curate

There are many reasons to curate your patient education in the digital age, but here are my top 5:

1. Saves You Time

The biggest gripe we hear from practitioners is that they don’t have time. Whether you are operating a cash or insurance-based practice, time is of the essence. One-on-one patient education is the easiest to do, but either you or your patients are paying for that time, and people only remember 5% of what you tell them.

Imagine you have a stressed patient, and you want to communicate how stress impacts overall health and the best strategies for thriving under stress. This is a complex topic, and might take 20-30 minutes to do an adequate job. Instead, imagine using your 2-3 minute window to inspire your patients to want to learn about it, and then having your receptionist email your patient a few well-produced videos, podcasts, or blog posts that are written by experts and are in line with your core beliefs.

You save time, the patient gets a more thorough explanation, can listen over and over again, and share the information with families and friends. Win-Win-Win.

2. Improves Patient Retention

One of the key goals for any business or brand is to maintain engagement with the brand outside of when the product is being used. One of the biggest challenges that naturopathic doctors (and any practitioner in preventative medicine) face is to maintain a relationship with patients after the initial symptoms have been resolved.

By engaging patients in an ongoing, high-quality, education program between visits, it is much easier to keep them engaged in your brand. If you curate education for patients, they will be thinking of you every time they engage with it, which can only help add value to your practice.

3. New Opportunities for Your Business

More and more naturopathic doctors are shifting their business models towards becoming community wellness centers. Given the important role that lifestyle factors (such as diet, stress, toxicity, and the microbiome) are playing in the development of chronic and autoimmune diseases, adding providers to your practices that can help patients with those factors makes ever-increasing sense. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, nurses, nutritionists, health coaches, and yoga teachers are all popular choices, and curating high-quality education on these topics can inspire your patients to use the services of these other providers.

4. It Can Double as Marketing

Most naturopathic physicians I speak with feel like they are saying the same things and answering the same questions over and over again. Does this sound like you? If this means you are bored with delivering that information in an engaging way, then the key part of education – the inspiration – is diluted or lost. Give a man a fish…?

Naturopathic doctors often ask me what they should blog about, and I always tell them to start with what they are always telling their patients over and over again. Again, this way the answer (in video, written, or audio form) can be easily curated for them in-between sessions. In the digital age, the potential for people to easily share information with their friends turns this benevolent endeavor into a scaled marketing opportunity.

Are you making it easy to spread the word?

5. Community Engagement

Some of the most exciting progress in reversing chronic disease has come from involving the community to work together to achieve their health goals. From Dr Mark Hyman and Pastor Rick Warren’s mind-blowing results with the Saddleback church, to corporate wellness or the success of medical group visits, harnessing the power of community is proving a great catalyst in our most pressing time of need.

Curating education to groups and then bringing those groups back together to discuss what they have learned is putting powerful forces to work to empower communities to achieve their health together.

The internet has brought great information and scaling potential to an industry in need. If naturopathic doctors can get really good at curating their patient education, we will likely see a vast acceleration in the evolution of medicine towards a sustainable model. Be the change!

James Maskell is host of the upcoming “Evolution of Medicine Summit,” a free digital event September 8th to 15th, with separate tracks for providers and patients. His intention is to provide a perfect education event for naturopathic doctors to curate. You can actually even make money doing it! (Catch James live at the AANP event in August!) Find out more at http://evolutionofmedicinesummit.com/affiliate/.





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