Turning the Increased Global Focus on Diet to Your Practice’s Advantage

Written by on July 1, 2014 in Features - No comments

Learn to use the improved spotlight on healthy living to guide the way you treat patients and promote your practice

DocAppleWEBThe global focus on diet has increased immensely in the last couple of years. More people are overweight and/or obese and many people get sick because of a poor diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, an increased number of people are starting to watch what they eat and what they actually put into their shopping carts. Also, the fitness industry is exploding and over $30 billion dollars are spent on diet related products and programs every year in the US, with this number including diet foods and drinks.1

You can turn this increased interest in food and diet into a tool for promoting your practice and creating more loyal patients. And not only by prescribing more weight loss medicine.

If you are not already giving your patients thorough information about a healthy diet, you should. You may underestimate the positive influence you can provide for your patients’ lifestyle choices. In Denmark, where I live, diet is almost never a topic in the doctor’s office. It is simply not prioritized. But why? We’ve all known someone whose life has improved significantly after making healthy lifestyle changes, such as incorporating exercise and healthy eating as a part of their daily regimen. And many of us have heard about people who were dependant on medicine, but were able to cut down their doses or even say goodbye to their prescriptions after adapting healthier life choices.

Giving your clients nutritional advice – should it reach further than the examination room?

As a nutritionist, I say yes. Eating healthy (and exercising) is a way to improve overall health, both physically and mentally. Our diet plays a big part of our lives, and you have the opportunity to use this knowledge in your medical practice to improve the life quality of your patients, even more than you already do.

You want your patients to remember your advice and have access to your diet knowledge when they leave your office. They should be thinking about your ”food rules” in the back of their minds in their everyday routines.

Here are some recommendations.

If you are a regular reader of MedMonthly magazine, you have probably read Amanda Kanaan’s article about blogging entitled “Website Blogging, An Affordable and Effective Way to Boost Google Rankings and Patient Traffic” in the May issue.  An online presence of your practice is your first priority and blogging is an excellent choice to increase your internet exposure.

You probably already have a website. But how often do you update it? Keeping your website up to date and creating new content for your website is very important. Updating your website at least once a week is key, if you want your website to have a good Google ranking. You can easily do this by writing blog posts – or get someone to do it for you. And if you want to focus more on diet within your practice, this is a good place to start.

Referring your patients to your website for nutritional tips and/or diet plans is a great way to 1) get your patients to focus more on their diet and 2) to generate more visitors to your website and your practice, because people can ”like and share” your information.

If you don’t have the interest, the skills or the time, then partner with one of your local registered dieticians. A collaboration like this could include blog posts for your website, meal plans, e-books, talks about diet and health and so on. An additional benefit of this type of relationship is the mutual referring to each other – one business to another. You and your collaborator can acquire new clients through this reciprocal arrangement.

And since a visit to the doctor’s office is far more common than a visit at a dietician or nutritionist’s clinic, this is also a great place to display nutritional information that people can take for free.

Even if you just make a leaflet with some common nutritional tips and call it ”Dr. (your name)’s Nutritional Advice for Better Health”, it is a good way to increase your patients’ awareness towards watching their diets. You want your name to be on the flyer, so that if your patient decides to bring a copy for her friend or hang it on the refrigerator – it is more inexpensive marketing for you.

You could also consider ordering materials from health services or public institutions, which are often free. Leave them in your waiting room so you further create the awareness that diet is an important part of overall health. You could also put a sticker with the contact details and logo of your practice on the printed pieces.

These are just a few of the possibilities you have to influence the diet of your patients. From my point of view, it is our responsibility as health professionals to set new standards and contribute more to the need for health promotion in our modern society. Prevention is the best medicine.

1 http://www.worldometers.info/weight-loss/

By Marie Klee

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