Is your practice built on a membership model? Have you ever considered offering a lifestyle or coaching program to your patients?
If you answered YES to either question then this post is for you.
We are going to have a serious conversation about recurring revenue, lifetime value, and even opening up new revenue streams for your practice.
Here’s the thing, we are seeing a huge increase in practices looking to offer some type of wellness offering to their patients, BUT we see time and time again that these programs often fall flat because they weren’t launched with the right strategy or foundation in place.
The successful strategies we see include most, if not all, of the 6 steps detailed in this post. For best results they must be implemented to fit your unique practice model, which you can get personalized coaching on through this 'Mentored Launch' program.
We will dive into the common reasons why programs don't succeed, but more importantly we are going to walk through the key steps you will need to craft an attractive program your patients will actually find value in and be willing to pay for.
Why You Should Consider Offering a Lifestyle Program
Let’s operate under the assumption that all practitioners want to help their patients be successful. That being said, any patient that you have paying on a membership needs to recognize some type of value throughout the course of their membership or you are setting them up for churn.
If a patient gets sick once or twice a year then you are going to need to provide INCREDIBLE value during those one or two instances they are in the practice to ensure they see that value is outweighing the costs.
That can be incredibly difficult!
Let’s look at how this can affect your business. Have you heard of the leaky bucket analogy?
Let’s say you have a practice of 250 patients and you regularly lose 2 patients each month – that would roughly be a 99% monthly retention (248 patients remaining out of 250 initial patients = 99.2% retention).
That doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Well here is the thing – losing 1% of your customers each month would result in an annual retention rate of 90%, meaning that each year you would need to acquire 25 patients (that remaining 10%) just to remain the same size.
Here is where a lifestyle program comes in. It enables you and your staff to constantly provide value to your patients and keep them “tethered” to your practice.
Consider the idea of perceived value. You need to ensure that in your customers’ eyes, your practice provides value that surpasses the associated costs with their membership.
A Lifestyle Program To Rev Up Your Business
Let me make it clear that programs aren’t just for boosting your retention numbers. They can greatly strengthen your business across the board, increasing value, providing better data to you and your staff, as well as increase your revenue opportunity.
Let’s explore this a bit deeper…
As I mentioned earlier, I know you want to provide incredible value to your patients so that they can live a healthier and happier life. Everyone can use additional accountability and guidance and these programs can be simple ways to strengthen your relationship.
Ultimately, it’s that relationship that will keep someone around, increasing that customer’s lifetime value.
Better Data Means Proactive Care
One of our partners runs the lifestyle program within a private practice and happened to notice one day that a patient seemed to stop wearing their health tracker. He equips all his patients with Fitbit to better understand their lifestyle habits outside the practice so he thought it a bit strange that this person had all of a sudden stopped wearing their device.
He monitors his patient's habits and provides feedback using the Nudge Coach platform, which you can familiarize yourself with here if you haven't already.
Like any great practitioner he reached out to the patient – “Hey Jack, did you lose your Fitbit? Do we need to get you a new one? Just wanted to touch base.”
Here’s the thing about Jack. He had gotten incredibly sick, wasn’t able to workout, and hadn’t made it to the practice yet.
This practitioner was able to coordinate with this patient and get Jack into the practice the next day.
As a result, Jack actually told him that they now had a customer for life.
Increase Your Revenue Opportunity
You will always have customers ready to pay extra for additional value, and lifestyle programs are an obvious add-on as they complement your core services.
Creating an upsell can take multiple forms ranging from something as straightforward as charging an additional $50-100/month for light accountability in-between sessions all the way up to $2,000-3,000 for a specific 6-month program.
Regardless of the program, this is NEW revenue you didn’t have in your pocket beforehand.
At this point my hope is that you are seeing why so many practices are going this direction.
The 6 Steps to Launching A Successful Lifestyle Program In Your Practice
Below I’m going to share with you some of the key lessons we’ve learned from working with hundreds of practitioners about launching a successful lifestyle program out of your practice.
Identify Your Target Market
[note: avoid providing something to ALL patients]
Let’s start by identifying the pain point that really needs solving. What I mean is a subset of patients who suffer from a similar condition and would find value in additional services.
A simple example would be providing a weight loss program if you hear multiple patients voice frustrations trying to lose weight or meeting a certain health goal. Whatever the issue, it’s critical to identify the cohort who would be most likely to purchase additional programming.
One thing to avoid is trying to craft a program that fits all your patients. Make sure you set realistic expectations for yourself and your staff as a one-size-fits-all program will lose any sense of feeling personalized or appropriate for those that really need it.
Helpful Resource: ELEVAYS
Dr. Isaac Jones has a program targeting those wanting to be "high performing" individuals. Check out their landing page AND application to see an effective approach to targeting and presenting a high value offering.
Identify How The Program Fits Into Your Model
Now that we’ve identified our targets for this new program, we need to identify 2 key items: your goal AND the economics powering it to make sure it’s viable.
The table below will give you a sense of the pros/cons associated with programs more geared towards mitigating patient attrition - "Increase LTV" - vs. those focused on increasing your revenue opportunity - "Increase Revenue."
We’ve seen two strategies that work well in this instance that depend greatly on the program and how it’s packaged: charging an additional monthly fee OR charging up front for a set program (i.e. 6-month weight loss program).
There are pros and cons to both but a lot of this comes down to the nuances of the program and how front-end heavy it is for the administrator.
Monthly Fee ($50-100/month in addition to membership fee)
Program will likely contain some type of assessment at the beginning with regular face-to-face/ video interaction and ongoing communication as the patient progresses, but ultimately this may be a more traditional program built around basic accountability.
This type of service may be more appropriate for scale as it has low deployment and onboarding costs in terms of time and effort.
Upfront Fee ($1,500-20,000 depending on specificity of program)
I’m seeing more programming that is front-end loaded with services, such as advanced testing, but these are generally positioned as concierge or white glove offerings. As such, practitioners are using that as a way to encourage upfront payments, which can influence buy-in during the opening months.
People tend to be more serious when spending money up front for a service, and those expressing this level of seriousness are likely candidates for follow-on programming and maintenance plans.
Identify The Person Owning And Running The Program
Are you a solopreneur and 1-practitioner practice or do you have staff who may be able to run a program? Both can work but we need to understand who will handle the man hours that go into running a program.
There is a growing trend among established practices where they are starting to hire dedicated staff to run these programs as they’ve seen a return on investment and realize that increasing your retention numbers within a business can mean thousands of dollars kept from heading out the door.
That being said, you have several options:
- Run it yourself (works in smaller practices)
- Delegate to a staff member (depending on the programming)
- Partner with a part time nutrition/fitness pro you trust to work with your patients
Regardless of the team managing it, the process itself should be similar, starting with properly qualifying your patient before allowing them access to the new program, followed by consistent content/feedback, and retesting to illustrate progress.
Kick Off the Program With Upfront Testing
Everyone who purchases any kind of lifestyle program will be expecting some type of identifiable return on their investment – losing weight, feeling better, sleeping better, etc.
Your program won’t be any different, so it’s important to lay a foundation enabling you to illustrate progress to patients.
It’s for this reason I would strongly consider kicking off your program with some type of upfront data collection because it will provide several key layers of value for you and your patients.
Most practices opt to either handle this by starting their program with a full body composition analysis using an analyzer like InBody or Tanita, or through advanced lab testing. Items to keep in mind.
- This is a chance for you to illustrate your knowledge in the field.
- Results are tangible and can be taken with them afterwards
- It’s a benchmark to measure progress
Keep in mind that you can also offer regular follow up readings for a small fee to further increase your earnings potential.
Specialty Labs to Consider for Your Program
Body Composition Analyzers
Select The Right Tech To Simplify Data Collection And Follow-up
I regularly meet practitioners who’ve gone to incredible lengths to manage their lifestyle program, from hosting regular web conferences to equipping patients with health tracking devices to understand who needs their attention. Both result in a touchpoint, but the strategy largely depends on the size and cost of your program.
Ultimately, most practices with a lifestyle program have adopted some type of platform to streamline program management as to avoid getting bogged down in the process of sifting through data, sharing content, and providing feedback.
There are multiple systems on the market that can provide value with this process but they vary in functionality and complexity.
Your approach to technology should be from a patient experience perspective so select a platform that fits within your desired process and experience you have mapped out for participants in the program.
Below are a list of some of the most widely adopted tools we’ve seen to help run programs.
- Nudge Coach – digital coaching and health management platform built specifically to optimize the connection between clients and practitioners for lifestyle change.
- Twine Health – collaborative care platform allowing teams to coordinate care for population health efforts.
- FruitStreet – telehealth software that incorporates information from mobile health platforms for care management and telemedicine video appointments.
An Effective Touchpoints Strategy Is Based on Regular, Concise Nudges
The value of your offering is largely based on the perceived value you or your staff bring to the program – your blog, book, worksheets, etc can only move the needle so much.
YOU are the variable in this equation.
One of the main pitfalls we see is practitioners spending far too much time with the management piece, thinking that every communication needs to be long and detailed.
This is not the case!
There are two main things to consider with your communication strategy:
- Set Expectations - let patients know the frequency and purpose of ongoing communication with this program.
- Keep it brief - your feedback should be quick and concise. Keep most correspondence to 1-3 sentences and easy to respond to.
An effective content strategy is one that leverages a combination of regularly dripped educational content plus contextualized feedback as needed based on a patient’s progress.
For instance, here may be the touchpoint strategy for Month 1 of a 3-month program. Keep in mind that any personal note you send will lead to follow-up messaging.
- Personal Note: “Excited to start working with you” note with mention of materials heading their way.
- Automation: Getting started email with link to the curriculum.
- Personal Note: 1-3 sentences.
- Automation: Link to educational content #1.
- Personal Note: 1-3 sentences.
- Automation: Link to educational content #2.
- Personal Note: 1-3 sentences.
- Automation: Link to educational content #3.
Putting It All Together
Taking a step back we can start connecting all the pieces above to map out a program that fits your practice and can strengthen the profitability of your business.
Identify the common needs of your patients to identify what type of program would be of value to your patient population. Decide on whether this would be a concise, specific program or an evergreen service – the more specific the pain point you solve the higher the value and associated revenue potential.
Identify who will be running the program and make sure that it will be initiated with some type of upfront testing to benchmark your participants and have a solid base to illustrate progress.
Map out the content and touchpoint strategy to provide significant, scalable value to participants every 1-2 weeks.
Find the right solution that will streamline the process and mitigate the amount of time required to run the program.
Lastly, remember to keep is SIMPLE for you and your participants.
If You Need Assistance
I laid out the steps for you in this post, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
The fact is few very practitioners have the experience or the time to create an effective lifestyle program on their own, and it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel when there are professionals out there with years of experience building effective programs from the ground up.
That’s why we’ve brought together a team of experts with years of experience implementing lifestyle and wellness programs in practices to work with you to develop a strategic plan that fits within your unique model to maximize both health outcomes and business outcomes for your practice.
It’s called the Mentored Launch Program, and applications are open now with our first cohort launching soon.