Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Goals and Encouragement in HealthCare

Communication and collaboration between doctors and patients is a topic that I am happy to see in Tweetchats. In the last #HCSM on Sunday evening, August 18 at 9:00pm the final question dealt with goal-sharing with healthcare practitioners. Is there standardization, how are goals communicated to HCPs and what if the goals that the doctor has for the patient are different from the patients' goals?

This link leads to a storify (my first one ever) of some of the enlightening responses. You can see some of the responses for yourself.  Tweetchats are an outstanding way to get a view of a subject from more than one perspective.
                                   Iris                     AMcKinnon
It was a fascinating topic and my favourite story was by Dr. Iris Thiele Isip Tan. Her patient was so excited to reach her goal that she jumped up and hugged her. So achieving the goal empowered the doctor and the patient! as Dan Goldman said. And neither will forget the moment.

That is the ideal result of collaboration between doctors and patients to reach goals.  

Which brings me to what I think is the secret ingredient that helps people become more literate and engaged.  Encouragement. When people manage to achieve even a small step on the road to improvement some congratulatory words from the doctor are a real accelerant for many. 
Here's a commercial for encouragement. I just saw it through reading RA Warrior's blog this morning. Being encouraged is often an exceptional event. We can all make it more common.

Here are some guidelines to goal setting:
Whether your goal is climbing a mountain, planning a party or improving your health there are ways to reach that goal.  When you take a self management course you find out that goal setting is one of the most useful tools in the chronic disease management kit. 
                                     Wait! Do I need to open the box?
There are no secrets to effective goal setting - just guidelines to help you succeed.  You can chose something very difficult but then break it into achievable steps. That's your Action Plan. Then work on each step one after another.

1. You need to be specific about your goal. Not "I will lose weight next week" but "I will not eat after dinner on Monday or Wednesday" for example, or "I will walk for 1/2 hour on Tuesday and Thursday in the evening".
2. As in the example above you want to be able to measure the goal. Not eating after dinner on two days is the goal and it is easy to tell if you succeed.
3. It also has to be realistic and achievable. If you know in advance that you will never accomplish it you need revise your goal. A rule of thumb is to rate the likelihood you'll do it on a 10 point scale. Your confidence should be at a 7 or better.
4. Your goal should be relevant to you and your plan.
5. Making it specific as to time is also a proven method of making your action more likely. 

Even with these you should think about what obstacles or setbacks might come up and make a plan for that too. If there's a surprise party and you need to eat cake you could choose another day to abstain from sweets.
                        Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program
Climbing this mountain in one day would be beyond me now but I'm sure I could do it by preparing gradually.

Good Luck on your new plan!


  1. I like this post and its very relevant to me right now. I am still determined to lose some weight and tone up and to achieve this I have set myself the goal of doing an hours practice of yoga daily, 5 days a week (unless I go out that day, in which case walking is my exercise), & giving myself the weekend off (mainly as it's not practical then). During the week I can get up earlier and have the living room to myself before anyone else is up, so this is perfectly achievable. So far so good since last week.

    1. So many of us struggle to lose weight. Next time I bake I will give half to our generous neighbour who shares with us often. I'm glad you found the post helpful. Now that it gets dark sooner it is more difficult to get out and walk - need to pick up the schedule or walk before dinner

  2. It's important to imagine the goal in the present, as if you have already achieved it. Go big! What do you SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TOUCH, TASTE. Finally, and I think this is the most important one, how do you FEEL?

    1. I'm so pleased you added that Marianna. It gives the goal more dimension. I can just imagine how I would feel if I could wear my favourite pants again. I felt so happy when I had them on. So what is more important to me? Lately sugar has been winning but I can change.