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How Patient Goal-Setting and Gamification Can Power Your Practice’s Success

If you’ve followed research literature on the benefits of patients setting goals for their care but wondered how to practically implement this in your own practice, we have exciting news for you: Force Therapeutics recently launched an improved patient goal-setting capability in its platform that will enable you to easily implement patient goal-setting and tracking.

By helping your patients’ create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals and take action to achieve those goals, the Force platform will enable improved patient satisfaction and outcomes.

In this article, we highlight this new platform function while discussing its ability to transform your approach to care.

Patient Goal Setting Offers Many Benefits

Patient Goal-Setting Leads to Better Outcomes and Higher Patient Satisfaction

The benefits of patients setting goals for their care and working with their providers to pursue those goals have been shown in the context of rehabilitation. In particular, patient goal-setting led to better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction among patients rehabilitating from neurological disabilities.

Research has also shown that orthopedic patients who have more concrete goals for returning to sports or work achieved significantly higher KOOS, JR, functional scores at 12 weeks after their surgery.

In addition, patient goal achievement provides the greatest unique contribution to patient satisfaction for those with chronic disabling spinal disorders.

Leading physicians have also recognized that providers discussing goals with their patients promotes a satisfying care experience.

“When surgeons understand in advance exactly how their patients are defining a ‘successful surgery,’ they can have more fruitful conversations about patients’ quality of life, the decision to have surgery, and what gains are likely within a certain timeframe,” writes Dr. Michael Suk, Chair of Geisinger’s Musculoskeletal Institute, in a recent Harvard Business Review article. “Setting expectations is crucial for a positive patient care experience, as it allows both physicians and patients to work together to achieve a meaningful goal.”

Patient Satisfaction Leads to Positive Reviews

Patient satisfaction is not only professionally gratifying; it’s also great for business. Now that health consumerism has taken hold, more than half of patients are relying on web searches to find a new primary care provider.

Given that provider reviews and ratings are the number one factor potential patients consider in choosing to book an appointment with a provider, having highly satisfied patients who are motivated to post positive reviews of your practice can drive substantial new business.

Gone are the days when a provider might rely exclusively on referrals. According to a Press Ganey survey of more than 1,000 adults, 84% of patients would not see a referred provider that has less than a 4-star rating. 

Given these conditions, creating positive patient experiences that motivate your patients to post favorable reviews and ratings of your practice is key to your practice’s success.

Patient Goal-Setting Supports Patient Centricity 

Having the patient and provider jointly make a treatment decision based on the patient’s specific goals is a much more patient-centric approach to healthcare.

Patients don’t seek out care aiming to achieve a certain score on a traditional outcome measure. They’re instead focused on changing their quality of life in some specific, personal way. 

For example, a patient might seek a knee replacement so they can carry out their daily functions with less pain. They’re not choosing elective surgery aiming for a specific Oxford Arthroplasty Early Recovery Score (OARS).

Similarly, a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) doesn’t seek out care to improve their six-minute walk test results. They want something more personal: perhaps to continue playing tennis once a week without too much shortness of breath.

For these reasons, a jointly decided goal between the patient and provider is much more meaningful than an outcome measure.

Challenges in Making Patient Goal Setting Part of Clinical Workflow

Despite the advantages of patient-selected goals, few providers in rehabilitation settings have made patient goal-setting part of their clinical workflow because of challenges with implementation.

Scholars have also pointed to the likely benefits of patient goals for those with chronic conditions — while again highlighting the lack of a feasible and practical workflow for implementing patient goal-setting. 

So how can providers capture patients goals and track them for each patient without slowing down their practice?

It’s simple – your practice just needs the right digital care platform.

Goal Setting, Goal Tracking, and Gamification Elements in Force Therapeutics’ Platform

Patient goal setting and tracking in Force is easy to implement for both providers and patients.

Here’s how the functionality will work for these two groups:

1. The care team first creates patient goal options customized to each condition or procedure.

For example, for patients having a knee replacement, the care team might create these six goal options for patients to choose from:

  • Walk without assistive devices (i.e., cane, walker)
  • Return to work
  • Live independently (i.e., tie my shoes, drive my car)
  • Return to my hobbies (i.e., traveling, gardening)
  • Return to my exercise routine (i.e., biking, golfing)
  • Reduce pain while walking, sitting, or sleeping

For a dermatologist who treats many teenagers with acne, the provider might create this list of patient goal options:

  • Feel less self-conscious at school
  • Be acne-free for school pictures or prom
  • Reduce risk of scarring from acne
  • Other

Force has your care team choose goal options because it’s hard for patients to choose SMART goals without provider guidance. Having the care team involved also promotes shared decision-making between the provider and patient.

The care team also has the option of establishing multiple goals — both short-term goals and long-term goals for a care pathway that may involve a long recovery with multiple stages.

2. The care team selects how long the patient has to achieve their goal. 

The care team configures the time limit the patient has to achieve the goal options. In doing so, the team draws upon their knowledge of how long recovery will take after a specific procedure or the time needed for a treatment to be effective. 

In the case of the patient having their knee replaced, perhaps six months is the right amount of time to give to the patient.

For a patient being treated for acne, two months may be enough time for the medication and new self-care procedures to achieve clear skin.

3. The patient chooses one of the goal options created by their care team and then writes in why that goal is important.

For example, the patient undergoing a knee replacement might select “return to my hobbies (i.e., traveling, gardening)” and then write that they want to easily walk up and down the hills in Santorini during their upcoming Greek Islands cruise. The patient might elaborate that it’s been a lifelong dream to explore the island and its white buildings with blue domes.

In the case of the teenager seeking treatment for their acne, they might select “feel less self-conscious at school” and then elaborate in their written answer that they want to hold their head up high as they walk down the halls or feel confident to ask out the person they like.

Having the patient record their goal is so effective because research shows that having a specific goal motivates a person to carry out necessary follow-up actions to achieve their goal.

Consistent with this research, our own analysis shows that 94% of patients who set goals in Force feel motivated to keep track of their progress.

4. The patient records their progress toward the goal.

By allowing patients to enter progress updates, the Force platform further enhances patient motivation to take action and increases the chances of goal attainment.

According to research, monitoring progress toward a goal and recording that progress make you more likely to succeed.

In addition, the platform shows a progress bar for the patient, which is a game-design element that promotes motivation. That is, seeing the progress bar partially filled in makes the patient want to see the bar completely full. Patients also earn a Force award for entering goal progress for the first time – as well as when they achieve their goal.

The provider is also able to see the patient’s progress information and thereby effectively monitor their patients outside of office visits.

5. Force’s AI reviews progress updates and delivers educational content to the patient based on the progress inputs.

Recovery may involve setbacks, and the platform automatically provides extra support to patients who need it. This reduces the call volume to your office, freeing up time for your staff to help other patients. 

6. The platform helps the patient celebrate goal achievement.

Once the patient achieves their goal, the platform shows confetti raining down on screen to help the patient celebrate the win.

A simple gamification element like this produces a dopamine release that increases patient satisfaction. The dopamine reward may even motivate your patients to use your practice for additional health goals they have.

Ready to Deliver a More Satisfying, Personalized Care Experience?

With the patient goal-setting and goal-tracking functions on the Force Therapeutics platform, you can transform your practice to deliver the kind of personalized, satisfying care experience patients want.

Join thousands of healthcare executives, orthopedic surgeons, and care team members who trust Force as their digital care partner.

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