Should I set goals with my patients?

Posted 16 December 2016 in , Business and Marketing, clinical
Should I set goals with my patients?

In this fast paced world most of our behaviour is goal orientated. Humans act for a reason, and usually within this reasoning is an applied goal. For example, a patient books an online appointment with your practice (action) due to an injured wrist (reason). The patient is contacting your practice as they know you will have the skills to treat their injured wrist and reach their goal of carrying their own shopping or playing tennis again. As humans, we are completely goal-orientated, especially when it comes to rehabilitation.

What is goal setting?

The Business Dictionary defines a goal as: ‘An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.’ It is important to note there are two components to this definition: an effort to achieve the goal and the end result.

In terms of musculoskeletal care, goal setting is used to define what outcomes your patient wants to achieve, and how go about achieving these outcomes e.g. I would like to walk 10,000 steps per day.

Why set patient goals?

In general business management, the benefits of setting goals have been investigated extensively and it has been shown that setting a person/ patient goals encourages behaviour change by increasing motivation and interaction.

Having a goal also allows the effectiveness of the rehabilitation process to be monitored. This is particularly important because it allows you to pinpoint which interventions might help, and which actions are ineffective. This will help you reach your goal quicker.

Lastly, setting goals can help reduce your patient’s anxiety, and make the acceptance of limited recovery easier.

How do I set patient goals?

You must gain a clear understanding of what goals are important to the patient because goals are only sufficient if your patient finds them desirable. Patient input into the creation of goals is a key ingredient of motivation and will help your patient focus. Each of your patient’s goals should be dissected and the likeliness of achieving this goal forecasted. It’s very important to be clear and precise with your patient, this will help your patient focus on very specific goals and define expectations. Providing your patient with false hope will only enhance the likeliness of a disappointed patient - this is never good for business. Goals should resolve as may of your patient’s wishes as possible. Your patient’s wishes do not have to be treated as goals, but they must be addressed, as this is a key factor in motivation.

How do I record patient goals?

Recording patient goals and progress is very important. Evaluating progress will help you understand which treatments are working, and which are not. More importantly, you can measure progress against benchmarks you’ve agreed with your patient. This will act as a huge motivational factor in your patient’s route to recovery.

Patient goals can be recorded using paper templates, but it’s best to use private practice software that will help store your data securely and present you with a clear overview of your patient’s progress. TM3’s new clinical notes do exactly this and add a scoring element to your goals which allows you to easily measure progress and pinpoint regression.

SMART goal setting

Setting goals can be tough and sometimes fragmented. To help resolve this, the acronym SMART was created to act as a guideline. There are lots of variants of what SMART stands for, the most common being:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Attainable
  • R = Relevant
  • T = Timely

Specific. Nailing down what your patient wants. Eg; “I want to jog for a mile in 40 minutes’.

Measurable. In order to monitor progress, and achieve the end goal, your objective must be measurable. Eg; “I want to jog 300 metres, for 3 days in 1 week”.

Attainable. Your patient’s goal should be challenging, but achievable. Setting a goal, which your patient has no chance of achieving will only act as a deterrent. Eg; “I want to jog for two miles in 60 minutes”.

Relevant. Is the goal relevant to the patient’s problems? If your patient has a problem with their right ankle, it might not be wise to set a goal around the movement of the patient’s left arm Eg; ‘I want to improve my run by 100 metres this month”.

Timely. Deadlines must be set as they provide structure. Setting times allows for an additional constant to measure against. Eg; “I want to run 400 metres in 2 minutes in 2 months”.

Goal setting will become more important as expectations grow

Goal setting is and will remain a central feature in rehabilitation and should be a core competency of any practitioner within a clinic. Listening to your patient and understanding their wishes is essential, aligning these wishes with goals is imperative. Private Practice Software will prove a huge help when recording goals and measuring this will become more important as cases become more complicated, and security regulations get stricter. When you create goals, SMART guidelines will help you define a clear treatment path and attainable goals. As patients continue to work in a fast-paced world, where free time is limited, treatment expectations will rise. Setting goals at the initial consultation stage will help create structure and define expectations, whilst increasing motivation.

TM3 Clinical Notes Launch

Clinical Notes is the back bone of TM3, and we are very excited to announce the launch of TM3’s new web clinical notes. We plan to launch the notes in late January. The lauch will take a digital format and will last around 30-45 minutes. To help you get excited (if you are not already) , we will run a 3-day campaign prior to launch, involving competitions and vouchers. We changed the industy back in April, and we are about to do it again. TM3 is on a constant journey of development and innovation. We welcome you to join us.!

Click here to save your seat for the launch!

Posted 16 December 2016 in , Business and Marketing, clinical

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