Practices across the nation are adding nutrition and medical weight loss programs, but beware these pitfalls
Obesity was officially recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 2013. 1 In the United States, 36.5% of the population are obese (BMI >30) and an additional 32.5% of Americans are overweight (BMI 25-29.9). 2
With two-thirds of the American population designated as overweight, it is no surprise that weight loss is one of the top goals for most people. They desire weight loss so much, in fact, that the U.S. weight-loss market was worth more than $70 billion in 2018. 3
An ever-increasing obesity epidemic
As with every “hot” industry, increased spending brings quality solutions. However, it also brings out droves of people and corporations looking to make a buck from desperate people with an identified need when they may not necessarily have a great service or product. They also may not have the knowledge to offer proper and safe treatment in medical weight loss programs.
That’s where knowledgeable chiropractors can and do make a difference. They have a sincere desire to help those they care for each day who are overweight and suffer from various co-morbid conditions as a result. Thus, the number of health care practitioners offering weight-loss services continues to rise.
If you have a desire to help overweight clients and choose to offer weight-loss services now or in the future, there are a few common mistakes to avoid.
1. Not having a clear vision of how you want to structure your business model (beyond the cash pay vs. insurance decision).
Your vision will drive how you create your business, the clients you attract and the actions of your team. Yet it is often overlooked. Instead of copying what others are doing, ask yourself what makes you, your practice and your services different. Understand your “why” for adding weight loss and create your business plan from there, as well as your marketing messages.
2. Disregarding creation of systems for predictability and leverageable growth.
Systematization creates stability for your clients and your team. It minimizes confusion and aids in team performance as well as client outcomes. Take the time to establish documented systems for operations (scheduling, client education/flow); clinical functions (documentation, services, medications, certifications); finances (billing/collections, retail sales, accounting, reporting, payables); marketing (social media, statistics, ROI, sales specials/themes); and any ancillary revenue streams such as retail, online programs and fitness.
Include your team for optimal performance, efficiency and ability to modify as your medical weight loss programs evolve.
3. Poorly implementing your ‘circle of life’
Your “circle of life” is what keeps you and your practice viable. It also adds fun for you and your team. Your circle of life includes:
- Attracting the clients you want to work with most;
- Building a relationship with them online (blogs, videos, webinars, posts, e-books) and directly (local presentations, interviews, conversations by you or your team);
- Converting to a sale of your service/product;
- Becoming a raving fan as they experience what you have to offer and how it transforms their life;
- Referring others like themselves and beginning the cycle all over again!
This can be done direct to consumer and business-to-business for referrals.
4. Lacking establishment of client engagement endeavors
You want your clients to be engaged with you and your team — your “relationship” is what creates your “brand” that is communicated with others in your community. Engagement comes from your office environment, events, use of online tools (i.e. mail, text, interactive scales/wearables, apps and membership sites) and ongoing support. Engaged patients also tend to readily participate in making positive reviews and referrals.
5. Not practicing what you teach/preach
Your clients need you to be an example for them of what is possible and how wonderful it feels to be fit and healthy. You don’t have to be svelte and perfect, but I do encourage you and your team to show how you integrate the medical weight loss programs methodology you teach others into your lives. That means the struggles and successes. This helps with credibility and provides many talking points (content for you to share) online and in your practice.
Medical weight loss programs: don’t reinvent the wheel, but make it your own
Having an established clientele who trusts you puts you in a unique position to also help them with their weight-loss needs. Keep it simple at the beginning and be sure to use available resources to help you establish your ideal weight-loss services.
If you need help, reach out to nutritional resources. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, you just need to make sure your weight-loss program creates successful outcomes for your clients and a fulfilling business for you and your team.
KAROL CLARK, MSN, RN, is the best-selling author of “How to Add Medical Weight Loss to Your Practice: 7 Steps to an Enjoyable Business, Healthier Patients and Increased Profitability” and owner of Weight Loss Practice Builder. She has more than 20 years of experience working with surgical and non-surgical weight-loss patients and assisting physicians in building enjoyable weight-loss practices. She partners with Nutritional Resources (d/b/a HealthWise at healthwisenri.com) for creation of educational programs/articles for weight-loss practitioners. She can be reached at 800-395-8931.