You talk to your patients. You are right there in the consultations and daily office visits. Are you listening? No … really listening?
Often times as health care providers we quickly check an intake form for symptoms marked. Or, we listen to a patient’s “complaints” about their aches, pains, etc. Then, as we converse with them and build a relationship with them, they typically begin to share things that are not on that little form they are instructed to fill out.
As patients learn to trust you, they express personal things. Besides their exciting things and victories in life, they often open up about their challenges, stressors and struggles. Sound familiar? These are what we call “pain points”.
Pain points are those deep, personal, meaningful and REAL reasons people are struggling, stressed … and unfortunately dwindling toward illness … or perhaps are driven into action. Pain points may not seem big or obvious. They are often subtle and go un-noticed by others. But, for that person experiencing them they are nagging, annoying and tend to consume their consciousness. We all know that pain and stress like this is unhealthy!
Most doctors and wellness providers routinely speak and/or write about the importance of a person maintaining a healthy weight. Of course, the standard things pointed out to people are benefits like:
- Avoiding or addressing a serious medical diagnosis.
- Being able to do the enjoyable and adventurous things in life.
- Remaining healthy for their family.
- Being able to perform their job effectively
- Trying to live a long, productive life.
- Etc. Etc.
All of those are legitimate and important reasons WHY a patient should work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We all know that. But, when a provider is REALLY tuned into their patients, they will hear a whole other set of symptoms, signals and calls for help. What in the world could we be talking about? Well, here are a quick handful of such pain points.
- Toe nails and Shoes! Every day they bend over to put on their shoes or trim their toes and get out of breath. That’s not okay. It’s very nagging! And, should not go ignored!
- Stairs: they climb even a flight or two and are out of breath. This may even happen right in their own home. Bad sign.
- Clothes: they are putting on last year’s seasonal clothes now … and they do NOT fit like they did before. They are uncomfortable and frustrated. Time for new clothes. This is expensive and takes away from money they could invest in other things … like care in your office!
- Relationship issues: it’s very common for patients to open up and share about their relationships. Perhaps there’s some strain in a marriage or other relationship and if they are honest, their weight challenge may play a part in that issue for one reason or another. It’s sad, but it happens more often than we’d care to think.
- Job interviews: they have them coming up and it’s important! They want to present with a look that is professional, able to be productive, etc.
- Discriminated against: It’s not fair at all, but obese folks sense this on a regular basis. They feel they may be getting overlooked for things like a promotion, a relationship, etc. Again, very sad and not fair, but unfortunately a real deal that is deeply painful … and this affects their well-being.
- Family pictures: if you hear about this or see a picture of a patient with weight issues you better believe there was stress involved. If they have them coming up, they are already trying to decide what to wear, who to stand behind in order to hide their weight, or they are plotting about how to get off to the side … maybe avoid the picture all together. This is way too common. Pictures are for fond memories – not anxiety and embarrassment.
- Upcoming event: patients share about these with you all the time. Maybe it’s a family function, a work conference or a class reunion. You name it … but it’s on the calendar, coming quickly and causing your patient anxiety.
- Lost confidence: Can you tell when a patient’s self-esteem has taken a hit? Over time, as weight goes up, a person’s esteem and confidence often dwindles because they are self-conscious about their weight and looks. As much as we re-enforce that looks are only skin deep, people still struggle with this.
- Returning to the dating world: You know you (or your staff) will hear patients talk about this. For whatever reason they have been out of it a while and now find themselves back in it. The reality is they realize they are bigger than the last time … and that may certainly affect their experience. Again, not really fair, but it’s REAL.
Ouch! If we are going to truly care for the health and wholeness of our patients, we must realize that things like these DO cause pain … pain which can often times be eliminated by a sensible, proven and scientific approach to healthy weight control. That’s what WE help doctors provide their patients!
People are motivated in different ways. Some are spurred to act by PURSUING THE PLEASURE of achieving things like better fitness, improved medical reports, less meds, the ability to do more fun things, etc. While others are finally motivated when a discomfort hits a threshold … and it’s time they address or AVOID PAIN (like those pain points listed above). There is no right or wrong reason. But whatever their reason may be, YOU can be there to help them.
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