For many doctors, one of the biggest challenges is getting a patient in the office in the first place. Too many people only show up when they have a physical problem – or when their significant other made them go because the problem was getting obvious. 

And in many cases, the problem is already serious. Yearly well visits to check on a patient’s general health are critical to maintaining good health and finding problems before they become emergent. Annual wellness visits have been shown to positively affect health maintenance, disease prevention, and early detection of diseases like cancer, with a much higher survival rate if caught early. 

Additionally, they can help manage chronic diseases, which a significant percentage of the population lives with. Especially when dealing with patients who lack insurance, figuring out how to get them to come in early can be the key to good health outcomes. 

Affordable Care Act

There has been a major positive change in how insurance has been handled in the United States thanks to the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010. It created a national healthcare marketplace that allows people to buy healthcare at a reduced rate or sign up for government options like Medicaid. This has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured people in the United States, but not everyone has yet signed up or knows how to participate. 

A big part of a doctor’s job is reaching out to people who may not be part of the system yet. It’s estimated that roughly thirty percent of the population is still uninsured. These patients may be concerned about the cost of a wellness visit, so a doctor’s first priority should be to inform them about their options for health coverage and figure out how to get them to commit to a visit. Read on to learn how to best encourage uninsured patients to undergo annual wellness exams.  

Motivational Interviewing 

For many uninsured patients, they don’t know where to begin and often feel like they’re being judged when they come into the office. The challenge for doctors isn’t just to convince the patient to come in but to have them commit to changes in their routine long-term. 

Doctors often find it effective to use a patient-centered tactic called motivational interviewing. Rather than trying to identify the behavior change for the patient, they guide the patient to discover what they would prefer to change in their life and help them come up with a plan to achieve it. 

This can only be achieved when the patient and provider has a positive relationship and rapport. This is one of the ways HIMSS benefits both doctors and patients – by empowering patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health. 

Collaborative Goal Setting 

Patients often come into a doctor’s office looking for the doctor to tell them what to do, but this rarely results in a positive long-term outcome. The patient needs to know what their future looks like and make a decision to work in a positive direction. 

This is especially important with chronic health conditions, where maintenance and mitigation can make all the difference in preventing negative health outcomes. The doctor should be looking to find out what the patient’s goals are and helping them figure out a way to make it happen within their abilities. Collaborative goal-setting is the best way to keep patients invested in their health. 

Take The Opportunity To Educate, Not Only Inform

 What is the difference between educating someone and genuinely informing them? It comes down to whether they’re simply learning facts or learning how to open doors that will improve their overall quality of life. A patient can learn the name of their condition and their symptoms, but they might not understand how it progresses or how it can impact their lives long-term. 

The key is to eschew medical jargon or “doctor-speak” that might make a patient who isn’t in the know tune out. Instead, speak practically and let them ask questions about what’s concerning them. They might have a concern you didn’t even think of. 

A Better Doctor-Patient Relationship

Are you getting through to your patients? Many doctors see the same patient come back with the same problem, and their advice falls on deaf ears. This is especially common with patients who don’t take their annual wellness visit. 

How do you get through to patients, especially those who are uninsured? The first step is helping patients set their own goals. By educating them rather than informing them, it’ll be easier to help them take charge of their own health goals. 

By Manali