Season 2

S2. Ep5. The 15-Minute Entrance to Your Practice

S2. Ep5. The 15-Minute Entrance to Your Practice

Good Medicine On The Go
Good Medicine On The Go
S2. Ep5. The 15-Minute Entrance to Your Practice

The 15-minute Entrance to Your Practice

Discover a tried and true method that drives conversion rates by focusing on onboarding the right patients who will stay with you for the long journey.

    • Discover the business benefits of overhauling your Welcome Call and positioning a health coach as this most important first encounter

    • Prioritize your patient by assessing their needs and readiness from the first encounter, and gauge preparedness for the long journey of Functional Medicine

    • Optimize conversion rates by onboarding the right patients

Therapeutic Partnerships Roadmap Course

The Therapeutic Partnerships Roadmap allows you to reduce stress and take back your time and energy by showing you how to effectively design and streamline your operations systems to create strong relationships, optimize outcomes and boost word-of-mouth referrals.

“Working with Kara Ware led to a doubling of my new patients in the first month. Her ability to reorganize my practice and place Jennifer Stump, NBC-HWC, as a health coach into my clinical model has led to better patient outcomes, less stress for me, and increased income. We now have a well-oiled machine that takes full advantage of my health coach’s skills and frees me up to do the parts of a functional medicine practice I really enjoy. Working with Kara to integrate a health coach has been the single best practice innovation I’ve made in the last 10-15 years. I recommend her to all of my Kalish Institute students.”  Dr. Dan Kalish, DC

Guest Expert - Dr. Daniel Kalish

Featured Speaker - Dr. Daniel Kalish
Kalish Institute of functional medicine
Dr. Daniel Kalish is the founder of the Kalish Institute, an online training program dedicated to building functional Medicine practices. Since 2006, the Kalish Institute has helped develop practice models for over 1,000 practitioners worldwide.
In 2017, Dr. Kalish joined the Practice Implementation faculty of the Institute for Functional Medicine and began a strategic partnership around Practice Plan, an online training program. The course curriculum focuses on the development of business skills to assist doctors with practice implementation. This collaborative project between the Kalish Institute and the Institute for Functional Medicine focuses on a heart-centered, hands-on approach to designing an ideal practice plan and is intended to address the lack of practice management instruction available in the Functional Medicine arena.
Dr. Kalish has authored three books on this subject and is a notable speaker at integrative medicine conferences across the United States.


Kara Ware: (00:00)

This is Good Medicine On The Go. In this episode, we’re talking about the 15-minute phone call… the discovery call… the inquiry call… the welcome call. It goes by many names, but we all know it as a free 15 minute, 20-minute call. And this is one of the most important steps in your patient’s journey.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (00:31)

Yeah, Kara. A lot of you may think you already had this in practice… I thought I did… but I didn’t realize how this first point of contact could be optimized to the level, until I put you in place of that 15-minute phone call. And it was really kind of a random call. Somebody would call up in the middle of my staff’s busy day. They would try to tell the patient about the practice. Really inconsistent. And then I really found out what this 15-minute call could be, and I saw my conversion rate skyrocket. And I think it’s really important for the person who thinks they have a call in place or a person who knows they don’t have a call in place, to really look at the important points here.

Kara Ware: (01:20)

Hello and welcome. I am Kara Ware, a National Board-certified health coach and business advisor.

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Dr. Nathan Morris: (01:29)

And I’m Dr. Nathan Morris, a medical doctor also certified in functional medicine. A lot of doctors, myself included, don’t pay too much attention to their 15-minute phone call, but there’s really a lot of good that can come out of mastering this small first encounter. Kara, can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve learned about it, because you just really have become the master in my eyes, of how to make 15 minutes so productive?

Kara Ware: (01:54)

Well again, you said at first, this first encounter. We see this as the very first point of contact with our patients. So indeed it is an encounter and it needs to be scheduled. And this is really where medical care begins. It’s the opportunity to not only find out what the patient is looking for, and if they’re a right fit for your practice, but also start to build an emotional connection with them. And really the way we optimize this 15-minute call for your practice is to structure it as a coaching session, and that’s why we highly recommend positioning a health coach as the entrance to a functional medicine practice.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (02:36)

That’s right, Kara. There are a lot of people in the office, myself included, who probably could do the 15-minute phone call, but could they do the 15-minute phone call well? I think that’s the thing. “Oh, anybody can do that 15-minute phone call,” but can you do it well? And this is where you as the health coach, you really had the training to quickly form these emotional connections which are so important, and make the patient feel heard, and start setting expectations of what’s going to happen when they come into my office.

Kara Ware: (03:04)

Right. Right. And we also use the 15-minute call to find out what archetype the patient most closely resembles. Remember the patient archetypes, Nathan? We’ve been talking about them all season.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (03:16)

Well Kara, can you just remind me maybe? Because I don’t want to [inaudible 00:03:19].

Kara Ware: (03:21)

Right. Right. So the answer that we have come up with to the question of, “How do we make functional medicine more approachable, affordable, and sustainable, and open functional medicine up to a broader audience, right when the masses need us the most?” And our answer was to create more entry points based on patient readiness. And so we created… we’ve seen some archetype patients come through your practice over all these years. And so we have that advanced patient who, this isn’t their first rodeo, right? They’ve worked with functional medicine, they understand the financial investment, they understand the labs, they understand the functional medicine tenets. They’ve been in this for a while. Then we have that introductory care path, and that’s for the brand-new patient. They’ve heard from someone else, “Oh, you need to go heal the root causes.” And they’re so excited. They no longer want a band-aid approach, but they really have no idea all that’s involved. And these are the ones that we can scare away quickly. And then we have the proactive care path for those patients who want functional medicine, but up until now have just really been priced out of it, to be quite honest. They just haven’t been sick enough… right… to afford the cost.

Kara Ware: (04:33)

And then we have the group coaching events, for those patients, or prospective patients, who are still deciding, “Is this really worth it? Is this financial out-of-pocket investment really worth it?” And so they’re still contemplating and deciding the pros and cons. But we don’t want to lose these patients. We’re building patients. And so we’ve created that entry point, the group coaching events.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (04:57)

And Kara, reaching these patients… these four archetypes… it’s just so important right now because functional medicine is going to be so helpful in so many of these things we’re addressing right now in society. And it’s so great to have a way to welcome them and introduce them to functional medicine with this initial call, without overwhelming them. So I think it’s just perfect timing to be talking about this.

Kara Ware: (05:20)

And re-imagining the functional medicine journey. In this week’s episode Nathan, you, and I talked to our friend and colleague, Dr. Dan Kalish, who owns the functional medicine practice Kalish Wellness, and is the founder of the Kalish Institute… an online training program dedicated to building functional medicine practices. And so we talk with Dan about general advice to optimize this call, plus the business benefits of positioning a health coach as the entrance to your practice, which will assist functional medicine practitioners to boost conversion rates from perspective to paying patients, while onboarding the right patients based on their readiness, and with appropriate expectations, which ultimately grows your bottom line. Right after this.

Kara Ware: (06:15)

This podcast is sponsored by the Atrium Innovations family of professional brands, offering evidence-based supplements, advancing scientific research, and providing clinical protocols and technology to empower practitioners globally. Atrium innovations’ brands include Pure Encapsulations… the number one trusted and recommended brand by practitioners… Douglas Laboratories, Genestra Brands, and Living Matrix… the fastest growing digital patient management system for functional medicine.

Kara Ware: (06:57)

Dan, about a year ago, you and I worked to reevaluate some office systems at Kalish Wellness, and we actually ended up hiring and training a National Board-certified health coach to be integrated in your clinical practice. And one of those things we updated, was the 15-minute call. What general advice would you give to more practitioners, as they create their functional medicine practices… they re-imagine this entrance to their practice?

Dr. Dan Kalish: (07:23)

Well, I think the main thing is that doctors are not comfortable in a marketing or sales role, because I think traditionally medicine has been… I wouldn’t say above that, because that makes it sound elitist… but not wanting to enter into the sort of economic fray. People want to be held out as healers and helpers, and not be involved in the commerce part of all this. And so I think that’s a conundrum, right? How do you do a sales call without it seeming like a sales call?

Kara Ware: (07:50)

And I’ve heard you say, “It’s gutsy to call it a sales call,” but it is.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (07:54)

Well I know, when I was at my first seminar where I heard another doctor say the word sales, I almost got up and walked out. I really did. I was, “This is offensive and demeaning, and I’m going to leave.” But now I realizing, “Well, maybe we need to embrace this a little bit, so that we can understand how sales can be done in a respectful way that sort of plays to the strengths of the healing process and doesn’t have to run against that.”

Kara Ware: (08:17)

And how do we do this 15-minute call without becoming too salesy? And it’s hard for someone to sell themselves.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (08:24)

So I think number one is, we want to think about not leaving this to chance, right? And making sure that you have a structure and a script for how you want this to go. And making sure that people are trained properly, right? And just not something that’s intuitively obvious to a lot of staff members, about how this can work.

Kara Ware: (08:42)

Both of you have successful long-term functional medicine practices, and so when they would call your clinic, sometimes does that person who answers the phone even have the time to really listen to that patient as you mentioned earlier, Dan?

Dr. Dan Kalish: (08:57)

I mean, they can be in the middle of checking out two other patients, someone just walked in, and who knows-

Dr. Dan Kalish: (09:03)

… patients, someone just walked in and who knows … There’s the UPS person just delivered a big box of supplements. And so I think we really did a lot better with this when we separated out these special calls from the day-to-day hectic-ness of running the front desk, and it became a special thing, just like any appointment would be a special thing with a special time, an ability for the staff to focus on it.

Kara Ware: (09:24)

Exactly. I like how you said that, very specific, special visit type. It’s a visit type. It’s not just something you’re doing in the midst of receiving supplements and checking patients out.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (09:34)

Yeah. This was like revolutionary in my practice, just the idea of scheduling these. Let’s put it in the schedule. I was like, “Really?” He’s like, “They’re not paying for it,” because I’m so used to everything that goes in the schedule book having to be paid time, and that was a big deal for us.

Kara Ware: (09:49)

What about if a provider is doing this 15-minute call and they have somebody who’s calling, wanting to know the nuts and bolts and how are the provider going to fix them? What is the provider going to do that’s going to be magical. That’s a tough position for providers to be in.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (10:02)

Yeah, I would recommend not being that person, one, because we tend to want to promise things that we shouldn’t be promising because that’s just the nature of being a healer. We want to fix everyone, but we really need someone there that’s not emotionally connected to the outcome as much, and that can present that logical course of, hey, we’re going to create this partnership and this is what’s going to happen. And, he’s going to do the things he does, and within this partnership, we hope to see healing. But I just think that 15 … Once we come back to the salesy thing, we want to sell ourselves when we are not comfortable at that, most healers are not, and most providers are not. I just, wow. It made the visit later on that much easier too, because I don’t have to be a salesman telling them these things, but I really would discourage that. Would you agree, Dan?

Dr. Dan Kalish: (10:50)

Oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s just the way too much pressure and it’s not a very good use of anyone’s time, really.

Kara Ware: (11:00)

Okay, so we’re talking about in this season, the reason why and how to effectively integrate a health coach in clinical practice. And Dan, you’ve talked a lot about seeing this 15-minute call as a profit center. And anytime that you can hire someone to do the work for you, that frees more hours in your schedule, that’s a good business decision.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (11:20)

Yeah, doctors just don’t know how to make business decisions, do they really? Because we’re always making decisions based on the healing capacity of the human body and not realizing that we’re running this business that actually has requirements to have some kind of profit in it so we can keep practicing. And so I think if you can kind of separate yourself out for a moment from the clinical side and just saying, okay, what’s a practical thing that I should do for the business that I’m running here? Then having somebody who’s relatively inexpensive, bring in a patient who could potentially bring your business three to $5,000, makes a lot of sense. And you start to look at the numbers like that. One new patient, what’s that going to yield to your practice and how much are you investing in this free 15-minute call in terms of an expense?

Kara Ware: (12:04)

Right. And so it’s not even a question of how are you going to monetize this health coach. They’re actually doing it for you by being able to have that skill set. That is the best salesperson for you guys. I mean, talk a little bit about that just for a second is what have you found the reasons why a health coach is the best salesperson for you, the practitioner?

Dr. Dan Kalish: (12:24)

Well, number one, they have enough training to understand the emotional communication part of the equation. They don’t have enough training to answer the doctor’s questions, which is good, because we don’t want to do free medical advice here. And so it’s very easy for them to have these boundaries and offer, I don’t want to say sympathy, but offer some kind of again, like a connection to the practice and an entry to the practice and kind of set the tone. It’s like when you walk into a restaurant and you’re greeted by that first person that always walks up to you at a fancy restaurant, they’re really just like the tone-setter. And then you think, oh, I’m going to relax. And then you meet the waiter a little bit later and whatnot. And it’s like that. I think that any good business that’s run well wants to set the tone properly for their customers, and that’s really kind of the role of the health coach in that call.

Kara Ware: (13:12)

That’s really well said, creates the atmosphere of the patient experience from the very first point of contact, the entrance to your practice.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (13:20)

We want them to feel like it’s a concierge level thing, right? You want them to feel like they’re going to be well taken care of. That’s kind of the point.

Kara Ware: (13:26)

Yeah, exactly. And when you place your national board-certified health coach as that first free 15-minute call, you call it the inquiry call, tell us about the conversion rates, what happened?

Dr. Dan Kalish: (13:38)

Yeah, so I thought I was pretty good at doing this. It’s one of my charming characteristics, a little arrogant.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (13:48)

That’s any provider, Dan.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (13:52)

And I certainly thought no one could do it better, right? And I had to be convinced to do this, by the way, by a business coach. This wasn’t like, I didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Oh, I’m going to hire a health coach to do these inquiry calls.” There really had to be major arm twisting. But what I noticed immediately is that her conversion was like 90 plus percent. So almost everyone that she talked to signed up. I think it’s this third-party verification where the patient feels like they’re getting an inside view of what I do and how good I am and how the whole process can work.

Dr. Dan Kalish: (14:26)

And the other thing that happened is when we started to have the health coach be the first person involved, our lab sales nearly doubled, like literally overnight. So where I was kind of like hedging, “I don’t know if you need this other lab. Maybe you don’t.” She would just be like, “This is what Dr. [Kallis 00:14:41] thinks you should do. These are the tests.” And then people just started to do them all. And so rather than me trying to sell coaching services and lab services, it was more effectively done by someone else by outsourcing it.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (15:00)

So Kara, Dan just gave us some really good points on the business positive though, the 15-minute call, but a lot of our listeners really want to get down to the nitty-gritty. You figured out the structure to the 15-minute call that boosted the new patients I saw each month, but you didn’t really have to reinvent the script over and over and over again, and they had a really consistent experience regardless of the patient. Tell us why the health coach is the best person for this position and how they can recreate this experience so that it’s something that’s consistent in the practice.

Kara Ware: (15:30)

Yes, thank you. This is one of my most favorite topics. I love these 15-minute coaching sessions at the entrance to your practice, Nathan. And a certified health coach is the best person since we are well-trained in motivational interviewing. And so, you as the listener, you’ve probably heard of motivational interviewing. Maybe you even have read the book, Motivational Interviewing in Healthcare by Rollnick, Miller, and Butler, and perhaps you’re familiar, maybe not, but motivational interviewing is a counseling technique to help patients change behavior. It works by activating a patient’s own motivation for change.

Kara Ware: (16:08)

And since functional medicine is largely determined by how well a patient can implement the lifestyle factors, it’s important to understand these prospective patients’ motivators, their needs, their values right away. And so this is also the best change behavioral change model for working with patients who are frustrated, maybe even angry. And a lot of times, that was who I was talking to, in these 15-minute calls. Our prospective patients were very guarded. They’re angry. Their medical journey has not been easy, but they’re still holding onto some hope. And now they’re at your practice, Nathan, and it’s up to me as you and Dan said, to set the tone, set the mood, establish the atmosphere for their healing journey, with your practice, from this very first point of contact.

Kara Ware: (16:58)

And motivational interviewing, it’s taught me as the health coach to understand the patient, listen and empower the patient in a very short period of time. It really taught me how to flip this conversation in these 15-minute calls, so the patient’s doing more of the talking. So in this section of this episode, you’re going to hear how I, as the health coach, use motivational interviewing as a structure for these 15-minute welcome calls, these mini-coaching sessions, and you will hear how I build trust and rapport and establish an emotional connection by hearing, listening, reflecting back the patient’s needs and motivators, of course not giving medical advice.

Kara Ware: (17:38)

And then you’ll hear also how I’m beginning to transform any instant gratification expectations the patient may be coming to a practice with, which we know can sabotage the partnership and the process. And then you’ll hear how I’m helping to onboard the right patients who are vocalizing, yes, indeed, they’re ready to engage in this mutual participatory medical model, the therapeutic partnership, this joint-

Kara Ware: (18:03)

… medical model, the therapeutic partnership, this joint decision-making process. And then I can onboard them to the care path that is the best match to their current ability. So not to overwhelm patients, and equally as important, not to underwhelm the advanced patients. And this structure, Nathan has allowed you to experience tremendous conversion rates, which have bolstered your bottom line. Your practice has benefited tremendously. And so this is how I structure these welcome calls to be client-centered. So typically, when a patient calls, it’s easy just to start answering their questions and telling all the benefits of the practice. The person from the practice is doing more of the talking. With the motivational interviewing structure, I’ve found this as a method to flip that conversation where the patient did more of the talking and that was really exciting. They were beginning to share their story at this very first encounter.

Kara Ware: (18:57)

And as we all know, functional medicine is all about the patient’s story. So motivational interviewing has a tool that I referred to as OARS, it’s an acronym, O-A-R-S. And that stands for open-ended questions. So I’m asking the patient questions about their pains, a little bit about their history, what they perceive as the underlying causes of inflammation. What they hope to gain, what they’re already doing that’s going well, what they’re looking for. And the patient is doing most of the talking. A is for affirmation. I’m strength spotting through our entire conversation. I’m affirming their character strengths that I can recognize. For example, their perseverance and bravery, and courage to step out of the box and seek root cause resolution rather than just more band-aids, even when they’re struggling to get out of bed most days. And then R, is reflections. Reflecting back on what the patient needs, reflecting back on something I heard them say.

Kara Ware: (19:55)

These are statements of understanding. And then S is summarizing our conversation and checking in to make sure, for accuracy that I heard them correctly, and then asking permission to now share what the practice can offer and how we like to partner with our patients. So, Dan recommends having a script. I didn’t have a script while I was doing this call for you, Nathan, but have since created many training materials for this most important first point of contact with practice. And I’ve published an e-book training manual on how to effectively integrate a health coach into clinical practice. And this will be made available with episode seven. So, that’ll answer all your questions. Okay. I’m ready to do this, now how?

Dr. Nathan Morris: (20:38)

That’s awesome. So, basically what you’re telling me is that with health coaches and health professionals trained in MI, they come across and it really comes across with you not talking to 15 minutes about the practice as, much less salesy. We removed the sales pitch and I think all providers are really uncomfortable with the sales pitch. And I think patients are astute and they can pick up on that. And so you’re really hearing them in that 15 minutes, maybe for the first time ever. And you’re making that emotional connection when you hear them, right? And also you’re knowledgeable and can connect the dots between the patient, the provider, and the practice. And what a lot of doctors or providers don’t understand is that no medical advice is given during this. So this is really about creating that connection, hearing the patient and understanding what they want to do, and help guide them into the practice, and let them have reasonable expectations. And the thing I found is that health coaches work well with emotionally charged patients who are angry or even hostile in some cases. They’re really pissed.

Kara Ware: (21:38)

These were some of my most favorite parts of my job in your practice is because it’s a mini-coaching call. At the very beginning, this is how we’re setting the tone for their healing journey. And so, that’s why we are advocating that health coaches are the best person for this very important first point of contact, this entrance to your practice. Because they are so well-trained in motivational interviewing, and this can easily address a lot of the patient pain points and help onboard the right patients and therefore boost conversion rates. So the patients that are coming to your practice, we’re keeping them.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (22:15)

So Cara, tell us more about how you use motivational interviewing to make that transformation with those expectations that when the patients do come to the practice, wanting to know what is the doctor going to do for me? And I think you experienced this a lot, that’s our first question. What is the doctor going to do for me? And you can’t see into the crystal ball, you don’t know what I’m going to do. So how do we use motivational interviewing to kind of temper those expectations and kind of create that therapeutic partnership that’s so important for me and the patient and you start that process and kind of help them understand what a therapeutic partnership is? Can you give us a little more insight into that?

Kara Ware: (22:50)

Yeah, yeah. This is my favorite because as we mentioned, any preconceived expectations will sabotage the partnership and the partnership is that stickiness of functional medicine. Is how well you, the provider and the patient form that therapeutic partnership. And so we talked about open-ended questions. So did I acknowledged the questions that are important to them? Great questions. And then I just ask, “Before I even answer these, can I just hear a little bit about what’s going on? Are you comfortable with sharing that so I can understand what you’re looking for and what you need and what you’re hoping to gain?” And when I present it that way, I hear size on the end of the phone so many times they’re like, “Okay.” They weren’t prepared for someone to really listen to them and validate them and let them feel known.

Kara Ware: (23:42)

So after hearing a bit about their story, their perceived sources of inflammation-causing their symptoms, and the time since they felt well, the last time they felt well. Plus affirming their strengths and what they are already doing well. And reflecting back on statements of understanding, I then ask the perspective patient, “What’s your perceived time expectation for all of these pains that you’ve shared with me to be resolved?” Again, I flip the script and I asked the patient how long they expect to experience results, which they are seeking. And then this opens the conversation to acknowledge, functional medicine is not providing a medical cure, where the doctor’s going to prescribe something that will immediately restore their health, or at least alleviate their symptoms quickly. But rather, the agreement, this is a partnership. Where the provider guides the personalized medical and lifestyle plan and the patient’s responsibility is to learn how to successfully implement the plan.

Kara Ware: (24:38)

And that’s when I introduced myself as the health coach, that’s what I’m here as part of your team is to help with that implementation. And I like to say to patients, “Functional medicine, this is not something we are trying. Functional medicine, it’s a way of life. And as competence and confidence grow, you will find that you can implement more changes that at one time felt impossible.” And this is when we began to have that patient accept that this is a long journey and that we want to make sure we’re coming alongside them and co-creating as partners, a livable, reasonable care plan they can live. And all throughout, I’m strength spotting, and hearing what they’re already doing well. And how are we going to build on that? And I can hear their readiness, and I can hear that kind of next intelligent step for them to take, where we’re not asking them to jump over this chasm of getting to too large of a commitment too soon, and then they’re way in over their heads and they don’t come back.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (25:37)

Yeah. You’re kind of setting yourself up for your one-hour health coaching too. You’re kind of creating that expectation because, for us, it’s the 15-minute interview. You identify, “Hey, this would be a good patient for us.” They identify us as, “Hey, this will be a good practice for me.” And you’re gathering information for your next one-hour health coaching visit. So that’s a really, they’re not just meeting a health coach, randomly and that kind of is a nice, easy way to .. and you know with that health hour, health coach, and you can really make that the most effective as you can.

Kara Ware: (26:09)

Yes, Nathan. As we mentioned in our last episode, I’m the professional who’s driving the patient’s very first 60-minute encounter in our coach provider workflow. The sequence of coach provider encounters within our bundled care paths. So it’s easy for the patient to understand why they’re meeting with me first, rather than the provider, because we already established rapport and trust. They’ve already met me at the entrance to your practice.

Nathan Morris: )

After the patient shares her perspective, how they’re feeling, they’re venting their frustration and hopes, which I think is brilliant, because they already start healing. That’s awesome. What do you do next?

Kara Ware: (27:45)

This is where I then say, “Okay, I can hear you have worked with several functional medicine providers. You understand it will take time to work with Doctor Morris to continue addressing the root causes of your concerns. You’re ready to partner with him. I can hear the advanced care path sounds like a great fit for you. May I tell you more?” or I may say, “I hear your desire to heal the root causes, but you don’t necessarily know all that’s involved or even where to begin. You’re just really beginning to learn about functional medicine. May I tell you about the introductory care path we have for you?” or I can say, “Hey, I hear you’re being proactive. Awesome. We love that. We have this proactive care path for you,” or sometimes I say, “Okay, you’re not exactly convinced that this investment is worth it. Is that what I’m hearing? You’ve tried so many things and have many doubts. Can this really work for you? You’re still deciding the pros and cons of working together. How do you feel about this?”

Kara Ware: (28:43)

We have the most affordable entry point where you still have access to the medical provider and you can start your functional medicine journey and establish very important, fundamental, foundational pieces to your care plan at the most affordable rate. This is our group coaching events.” I don’t say this to the patients, what I’m saying to you. We don’t want to lose these patients that aren’t just quite ready just yet, right? This is how we build patients. This how we create patients. When I hear patients who are still weighing the pros and cons of this investment is really worth it, this actually is based on the Transtheoretical Model of Change by James Prochaska that I’ve referred to often through this series. This prospective patient, we don’t want to lose them, but they’re just not quite ready for that financial commitment or emotional commitment just yet. Ultimately, I’m saying to the patient, “Hey, we understand where you’re at. We can work with you there and then we can make a plan to work together to move you incrementally towards experiencing your health goals.”

Dr. Nathan Morris: (29:51)

Yeah. That’s really kind of that personalization that we’ve been after for so long in functional medicine. How do we personalize this experience? We start personalizing right away through this [inaudible 00:30:01] process to identify patients willing to enter into our participatory role. Now, if patients are not willing to enter into a participatory role, we really don’t want them in our practice, right?

Kara Ware: (30:09)


Dr. Nathan Morris: (30:10)

I think that’s important to say, too. In that 15 minute call, we can accomplish a lot, but we can’t make people want to be involved and they’d not looking for that magic pill.

Kara Ware: (30:20)


Dr. Nathan Morris: (30:20)

The patient begins to understand their role in the partnership from the first point of contact and agrees this is what they want, so it’s their decision. I don’t know. That’s really empowering, that, “Hey, this person’s heard me. They’ve given me choices and I’m making this decision.” That, really, proactiveness enters into the picture right there.

Kara Ware: (30:47)

Okay, Nathan, we have talked about a lot today as always. Let’s recap what we have recommended as a plan to improve conversion rates so to positively affect a practice’s success. We heard from Dan Kalish, the founder of Kalish Institute, and of course, we’ll have links to his resources in our show notes, but we talked with Dan who recently onboarded a national board-certified health coach, Jennifer Stump, into his functional medicine practice, Kalish Wellness. Once she was positioned to handle his 15-minute inquiry calls, we heard Dan share how his conversion rate is the highest it’s ever been and his lab sales nearly doubled.

Kara Ware: (31:27)

We also learned about motivational interviewing. More specifically, the OARS acronym, which is a tool to engage and build rapport with patients and assess their needs, their readiness. Using this tool allowed us to flip the script. No longer was your practice or a practice doing most of the talking when a patient first calls and inquires about your practice, but rather we’re hearing more from the patient. What is the patient looking for? What does the patient hope to gain? What is their level of readiness, right? Functional medicine is all about the patient’s story and this is the very first encounter where we began to hear that story.

Kara Ware: (32:10)

This technique helps us boost conversion rates by building trust and rapport, which is that emotional connection. We’re not giving medical advice. We’re transforming any instant gratification expectations that patient is bringing, which, as we know, can sabotage functional medicine. We are importing the right patients based on their readiness and we are pairing patients on the right care path for them. Remember, those arch types, the advanced care path, the introductory care path, the proactive care path, and the group coaching events. If you’re a provider, and you’re listening, and you agree with us, that we have indeed made a strong case for how and why to integrate a health coach to make functional medicine more approachable, affordable, sustainable and you’re wondering, “Okay, well, now how do I do this? How do I find a health coach?” Well, we are building up to an episode on how to interview, hire, train, manage, and optimize a health coach. Plus, there will be a training manual available to help expedite this process in your practice. We are building up to an episode in a couple of weeks for that.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (33:20)

In the meantime, Kara, we’re going to be talking about the new modifiable lifestyle factor, finances. I’d love to give you credit for this because you’re the one that taught me this and I don’t think anybody else has really talked about that.

Kara Ware: (33:32)

Thank you.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (33:33)

As we try to reach the masses and we try to reach new people, we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room, which is that functional medicine is expensive and how a health coach can work with the patient for long-term financial planning and financial care plan management, that’s just huge. It’s about co-creating a plan that’s within the patient’s financial threshold. I think we, as functional medicine providers, really have to start thinking about this, and address this elephant in the room, and how as a practice we can make care for patients affordable, and how the patient can work to afford it.

Kara Ware: (34:09)

Yes. This is one of my favorite topics.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (34:11)

[crosstalk 00:07:12].

Kara Ware: (34:11)

Well, this whole season is one of my favorite topics.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (34:13)

That’s right.

Kara Ware: (34:15)

I keep saying that. Thank you for listening as Nathan and I reimagine the functional medicine journey by creating more entry points for patients to make functional medicine more approachable, affordable, and sustainable, remember those three words, and how and why to integrate a health coach in clinical practice. Remember to rate, review, and subscribe, and tell a friend. Plus go to for show notes, resources, and soon a published ebook for training materials. Again, thank you to our sponsors, Pure Encapsulations, Douglas Laboratories, Genestra Brands, and LivingMatrix, the fastest growing digital patient management system for functional medicine. Thank you to our writing team, Kelsey Staffstrum and Paul Larkin, and our audio engineer, Isadore Nevis.

Dr. Nathan Morris: (35:16)

Thanks so much, Kara. This was a super great talk. I absolutely loved it.

I am a paid advisor at Pure Encapsulations, I do not have any other conflicts of interest. All podcast productions represent the opinions of the co-hosts and do not represent the position or the opinion of the sponsors. Reference by the presenter to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, or manufacturer does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendations by the Sponsor. The podcast is not a substitute for standard medical care. The podcast is intended for licensed health care practitioners. Practitioners are solely responsible for the care and treatment provided to their own patients.

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Scientists have made significant strides over the past two decades in defining the forces that enable sustainable behavior change, including autonomous motivation, self-efficacy, and other psychological resources that support changes in mindset (attitudes, beliefs, perspectives, identity) and behavior (health habits). There is also a significant evidence base for health and wellness coaching (more than 100 randomized controlled studies), putting the science of behavior change to work in the coaching relationship, where coaches partner with patients and clients to envision a healthier future and implement sustainable habits of mind and body.

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