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The Importance of Early Bariatric Patient Engagement

Engaging with patients in the early stages of their bariatric journey allows providers to ultimately understand and support their patient’s unique motivational, emotional, and intellectual drivers. Providers can use these drivers to help empower positive health outcomes.

If I had to pinpoint one of the most adverse parts of the healthcare industry today, it would be the many practices and services that are created as one-size-fits-all offerings. When you standardize healthcare so profoundly, you slowly erase all individuality and personalization from healthcare practices, which also removes its humanity.

Healthcare executives and providers should be involved in patient care journeys from beginning to end. This enables providers and patients to create customized care plans together and supports positive patient outcomes. Only two out of every three patients believe their providers have taken the time to get to know them. This, of course, puts a strain on the provider-patient relationship. However, this detachment poses more severe consequences. It can interfere with a patient’s care and lead to lower success rates.

It’s critical to cultivate patient engagement early. This is true across the entire healthcare industry, but I focus on how it benefits bariatric surgery outcomes.

Early patient engagement is key to bariatric surgery success

Engaging with patients in the early stages of their bariatric journey allows providers to ultimately understand and support their patient’s unique motivational, emotional, and intellectual drivers. Providers can use these drivers to help empower positive health outcomes.

Clear, candid, and consistent conversations should happen before and after a patient’s surgery, whether in consultations, in-between appointments, or during the recovery process. When providers become a resource for patients and work to develop their knowledge and confidence in both their understanding of bariatric surgery and their health-related decisions, this is when we can expect to see higher success rates.

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Patients don’t always know where to turn after surgery as they cope with adaptations and challenges, so they often need extra support and guidance. This is where we come in. But this is also why providers must be there for their patients from the beginning. Early patient engagement enables patients to participate in all aspects of their care, which inspires a greater sense of motivation and accountability.

Let’s dive deeper into why early bariatric patient engagement is critical to success.

Stronger patient trust

Patients who trust their providers are more likely to take their expertise and advice to heart. The information patients hear from the moment they’re in your care will shape their entire experience with bariatric surgery, from maintaining their weight loss post-op to protecting their emotional well-being as they navigate life after it.

Early patient engagement allows providers to educate patients about the bariatric surgery process in detail, so they are equipped with all the accurate information and essential tips before finalizing their decision. This information helps patients feel more confident and prepared for their upcoming surgery. Still, there’s another benefit: these patients are more likely to take an active role in their recovery. And because they trust their bariatric surgery team, they also know they are well-supported and have experts to turn to who are rooting for them every step of the way.

Reduced patient anxiety

In my experience, negative mindsets and assumptions around bariatric surgery often develop from society’s lack of knowledge about the procedure and how it can transform patients’ physical and emotional well-being. When patients are inundated with negative talk that they’re “taking the easy way out” — a familiar remark we know all too well in the bariatric surgery field — it’s our responsibility to step in front of these hurtful misconceptions and be the ones to educate and empower our patients about bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is a life-altering weight loss procedure, so, understandably, patients will have several questions and concerns about the process. Providers must create a safe space where patients feel comfortable expressing their fears or concerns so that both parties can talk through these doubts together. Early patient engagement gives the patient time to absorb the information while dispelling anxiety and stress about the procedure.

Greater patient satisfaction

Providers who create a bond with their patients from day one enhance their patients’ satisfaction, creating an unmatched experience as they look to transform their lives. Suppose patients are involved in their care and feel all necessary information has been communicated. In that case, they are likelier to go through with their surgery and have a success story worth sharing with others.

This will benefit your practice as well. Satisfied patients are more likely to come to you with future care needs and will refer you to their friends and family who are also considering bariatric surgery. This is a great way to grow your business and create a positive reputation in the industry so you can help future patients achieve their weight loss goals.

I believe this level of care should be the standard for the entire industry. Early patient engagement is one responsibility toward making someone’s dream a reality.

Photo:mi-viri, Getty Images

Jenn Christine is the Founder and CEO of Be Slim Bariatrics in Roseville, CA. Be Slim Bariatrics takes a more holistic approach to weight loss, with a passion for helping everyone along their weight loss journey.

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