Probably one of the most misunderstood chronic health problems is obesity. For years, weight gain was thought to be a “will power” problem. Now, doctors and researchers are discovering the existence of the OB Gene and how this gene can cause deficiencies in certain hormones that affect the appetite control centers in the brain. Your inability to diet successfully may not be your fault! Today, the medical community is taking weight control seriously and offering programs and medications to combat the serious possible results of obesity. Obesity is not curable, but lends itself to treatment. Weight loss can be managed and maintained when medication or supplementation is used and a systematic program is followed.
Your program will need four components
A successful program addresses four major components that will all work together toward the weight loss of the individual.
- Medication or supplementation. This component has a positive effect on reducing the desire to overeat, helping the individual get started and stay motivated until the body chemistry has a chance to change and readjust. If you have an MD in your practice, you will be able to use the prescription medications currently on the market. A new weight loss medication will be announced in the next few months; if you’re practicing medical weight loss, you’ll want to be a source to provide it in your area. If you are practicing natural weight loss, there are numerous natural products available from pharmaceutical houses. They all work differently and can be tailored to the individual problem. People eat for different reasons and at different times. These supplements address these needs individually.
- Nutrition. To successfully influence the individual on nutrition changes, foods must be introduced that are friendly to lifestyle as well as health. The program should be designed to help the individual develop new habits of eating. Deprivation doesn’t work. The individual must be taught to want to make different choices in the first placea change in what they crave. This is done by introducing different foods into the picture instead of immediately taking them away.
- Exercise. A very gradual and user-friendly program should be addressed here and is vital to the long-term success of the weight loss. As the weight is dropped, the individual will feel a substantial increase in energy and a gradual increase in desire to exercise. Simple exercises should be introduced that expand on some activity that the participant likes and/or is currently doing.
- Maintenance. Weight loss doesn’t stop when the desired weight is lost. A complete maintenance program must be offered to address the future. The individual must have a framework to fall back on when life gets stressful and new challenges present themselves. There must be safeguards built into the program to protect the individual from future weight gain.
Now, three more questions:
1. What staff will you need?
You will need a skilled salesperson as your counselor to sell and implement the program. Use the “rule of five:” only hire experienced sales people. Pay this person well. A base salary is probably essential, but should be set at the bare minimum needed. Once you have determined your cost of operation, the bonus should be based on moneys brought in after that base cost is met. In other words, bonuses should be on net collections. It may also be necessary to have a technician do the weekly weigh-ins and physical examinations when your counselor gets busy with consultations. These people are paid hourly based on your area.
You can choose whether or not to have a medical doctor on staff. Regardless of your MD or DC affiliation, you will still advertise as a physician supervised and monitored program. Your clients will see the doctor (MD or DC) every two to three weeks for a check-up. This is in addition to the weekly weigh-ins the clients will have with your counselor or technician.
2. What services should you provide?
You will start each client with a physical examination that consists of a number of diagnostics. Vitals, blood profile, urinalysis, body composition test, ECG, spirometry and pulse oxygen are some of the services you can offer. These add value to the program and are important tools in screening the health of the client.
Your clients will see a counselor or technician each week and have the freedom to call anytime in-between. The counselor or tech will weigt the client and take a blood pressure reading. Measurements don’t need to be taken each week; instead, take them on the visits they see the physician. It is important that your counselors and technicians are well versed in your nutritional and exercise programs and are instructing the clients on this behavior modification each visit. Documentation: detailed medical documentation, is vital.
3. What kind of advertising?
(Preferably easy and less expensive)
Advertising your medical weight loss practice is easy and can actually be fun! There are a tremendous amount of low cost methods. Radio advertising has proven to be very effective, especially if you can work out a trade with the station to have one of the disc jockeys lose weight on the program. You can have live weigh-ins on the air each week and mentions done by the disc jockey each day. Working out trades with other local businesses such as tanning salons, gyms, etc. can also provide you with a lot of exposure for your money and give you some incentive rewards to give your participants.
One of the least expensive things you can do that will actually yield the most patients is to spend a few hundred dollars on a vinyl outdoor banner. These should be simple, but eye-catching. Use white on red, red and black on white, or reflective letters so that motorists will be able to catch your pitch in the seconds that it takes to drive by. Make your banner as big as the space and the ordinances allow. Don’t get too detailed. Make it read with statements such as, “$99 Weight Loss Special, Physician-Supervised, Safe, Call 000-0000 Today!” or “Get Started Now!”
Bridal shows, health fairs, baby fairs and so on are all fantastic ways to advertise your successful program. One clinic that we helped in St. Louis booked their clinic for every appointment over the next two weeks just from one two-day show!
Advertise to your current patient base through direct mail. An eye-catching post card announcing your new program (as a general announcement, not addressing them as specifically being in need of such a program) will bring in your patients that are overweight and already trust your good service.
Now is the time to get started
Get started soon: January – July is the weight loss season! You can set-up a program in your existing clinic with minimal expense. Plus, this brings a whole new clientele into your practice. As you know, getting people through the door is a vital step in converting them to patients. Why not breath new life into your practice and take advantage of the low start-up costs, low overhead, patient-generating, profitable opportunity?
Remember, at least 70 billion dollars will be spent on weight loss this year. If you set up your program right, some of that money will come your way…in fact a lot! Training in setting up a weight loss practice is available to you. Take advantage of the business, sales, and organizational classes. If you don’t, somebody else in your area will!
Dr. Ted Morter, III is the co-developer of the NuLife Medical Weight Control System and cofounder of Axiom Physicians Management. Hailing from a family of chiropractors, Dr. Morter’s background as a teacher and seminar trainer goes back over a decade. Dr. Morter directs the daily operations of two of the Midwest’s most successful clinics, in addition to his multiple weight loss centers. To contact Dr. Morter call 1-888-333-7080.