Exercise and advice compliance.
As practitioners it’s often one of the biggest challenges we face.
It’s disheartening when you have those clients who come back at their next appointment saying that they haven’t had a chance to do the exercises you gave them, while in the same breath saying there has been no improvement in their horse’s symptoms since you last saw them.
And sure, you know that what you do in a consult will make their horse feel better in the short term, but unless the client makes meaningful change to the horse’s routine, including doing the exercises and following your advice, then nothing is going to change in the long term.
Which is frustrating for you as a practitioner, costly for the owner and simply very sad for the horse involved.
But fear not, there are some ways to help ensure that your client will follow the program that you've set.
Step 1: Identify your ideal client.
The first thing you need to learn in business is that your ideal client is NOT everyone who owns a horse in your local area. And that’s ok.
It can be scary in the initial days of setting up a business to think of turning away clients and you’ll often say yes to working with anyone who calls or continuing to work with a particular client that makes your heart sink every time you see them in the diary.
But if that client doesn’t fit into your notion of an "ideal client", the relationship is never going to work.
Think about the best clients that you have, the ones that actually do what you recommend and get results because of it. Identify what is common to all those people. Then tailor your marketing to them specifically and only take on clients that fit that ideal.
I promise, you’ll never need to worry about your clients following your advice again.
Step 2: Walk the Talk
If you want your clients to do their exercises and follow your advice, then spend all or most of, at least one of your consultations going through and practicing the exercises or management strategies.
Spending a few minutes at the end of a session to briefly demonstrate the exercises isn’t enough. Chances are the client hasn’t had enough time to understand why they’re doing the exercise or how to do it well, nor seen firsthand the benefits of it.
Don’t feel you need to spend the consult “doing” a treatment and that the exercises are an adjunct to add on at the end.
To us as practitioners the exercises often feel simple because we do them all the time. But remember how difficult you found doing them the first time yourself? Imagine how your client feels trying to figure out how to do an exercise on their own that they've only watched you perform.
A lot of the time our consults at Equimotion are advice and education only. So many of our clients are always thrilled at the end of a consultation to have a clear and detailed plan of action in place, and to have the confidence in how to execute it. Often before they have come to us they have simply had people “treat” their horse but have played no role in the process themselves.
Don’t underestimate the value of making your client feel involved in the process.
Step 3: Communication is Key
A recent study investigating compliance of patients receiving an exercise program via an app vs a paper handout found that the key component of successful outcomes was practitioner communication with the patient between sessions.
Firing off a quick text or phoning your clients (a useful way to use those hours in the car driving between clients!) to check in on how they’re going with their program is so valuable. Not only will your client feel that you care and are truly supporting them in their rehab journey, it will hopefully also motivate them to keep following your advice and their rehab program.
Another important thing to do is to make sure during your first consultation to ask them how they would like to receive their program. Don’t just assume that because you love tech and the convenience of an app based program that they’ll feel the same.
Ask if they want videos or a hand-out? If they are the type of client who needs some motivation to keep on track, make sure you add a tracking feature to their program and that you actually follow up on them to keep them compliant!
While we can't ensure that every single client that you see will be compliant, we've personally found that by following these 3 simple steps your chances are much greater!
And if you're looking for a new way to deliver your home exercise programs, please check out our new equine rehab and physio software - EQ Active.
With EQ Active you can deliver customised programs electronically - with videos, images, diagrams and editable instructions from a library of over 160 exercises.
Or you can chose from over 15 different print layouts to send a PDF or simply hand over a paper version of their program, without having to write it all out and draw your own stick figures!
We promise it will not only help improve patient compliance, but will save you a ton of time.
Interested to learn more? Try EQ Active free for 30 days.
kristin & Emma
We've been practicing as human & equine physiotherapists for more years than we'd like to admit (it will show our age!)