Wellness Wheel Implementation
Implementing the Wellness Wheel
The Wellness Wheel broadens a patient's understanding and appreciation of the seven elements of wellness. There are many technologies that can take a snapshot of our physical well-being, whether it be one's heart rate variability, cholesterol, triglycerides, resting heart rate—that sort of thing, it's unlikely that there will be an objective measurement of one's social well-being, connection with our higher power or sense of ease about our finances. But that's okay. It just means that this wellness assessment is likely to be a bit more dynamic.
It supplies a way to take a "snapshot" of a patient's perceptions, with you as the coach—guiding, directing and leading interested patients. And it all starts on the first visit.
One strategy is to include a copy of the Wellness Wheel with your admitting paperwork, instructing patients to darken-in the numbered bubbles between 1 (poor) and 10 (optimum) based on their perceived health in the seven different areas.
"So that we have a baseline of your overall well being, the doctor would like you to evaluate yourself one a scale of 1 to 10 in these seven areas."
Some patients, especially those who thought they were consulting a "back doctor," might be reluctant to reveal their financial or spiritual health. So the front desk assistant might want to frame the request something like this:
"Since we specialize in wellness, not just headaches and back pain, as you begin care, the doctor would like to have an idea of how you perceive your overall health in these seven different areas. Just darken-in the numbered bubbles between 1 and 10."
If you find this approach still produces resistance, some practices wait and review the Wellness Wheel at the consultation and have the patient complete it then, or send it home to be discussed on the second visit.
Then, at or before your patient report of findings, use a red pen to draw a concentric circle that encompasses the darkened numbered bubble with the lowest number. Label that circle: Personal Effectiveness. Explain that true health is a constellation of many factors, not just physical well-being. Remind patients that we tend to be held back by our weakest link, "...and in your case that appears to be in the career domain. Would you be willing to share with me what's going on in that area?"
Another strategy is to assign a "wellness quotient." Simply add up all the numerical values of all the darkened bubbles. Enter that number, or a percentage, based on 70 points (seven spokes with 10 points each) representing 100%. The key is to report their current self-assessment so you can compare it later at their progress examination.
On the visit before each progress examination, supply a fresh copy of the Wellness Wheel for the patient to complete again. (They will have long forgotten how they completed the previous version, providing an opportunity to explore what's better, what's worse and what hasn't changed.) Those are the three possibilities, so be prepared to discuss each one.
If the numbers are larger, naturally, that's a good thing. Remind patients how the nervous system—the focus of their chiropractic care—is the key to better health. Since we live our lives through our nervous system, a better nervous system means a better life. Identify the least developed spoke with the lowest number. Offer suggestions for enhancement and urge the patient to set some goals in this area.
What if the numbers are worse? At first glance, if their subjective evaluation of their overall health is worse than before, this would seem unhelpful in affirming their continued commitment to chiropractic. But numbers that are worse probably mean that you've taken a snapshot of their health in the midst of their re-organization. You can explain it to patients this way:
"Let's say this weekend you decided to clean out your garage. About midway through you stopped and took a picture. Would your garage look better or worse than before? Worse, right? That's probably what's going on here. Your body is in the process of making changes, so at this moment things look a little chaotic. My guess is next time we should start seeing some improvements."
The least helpful pattern is when the numbers don't change. Fortunately, it's the least likely pattern and means something else needs to change. Either your approach, visit frequency or what patients are doing—or more likely not doing your suggested home care to support their recovery.
You can also use the Wellness Wheel to stimulate reactivations. Mail a copy to patients on their birthday or at New Year's Resolution time. Include a letter explaining how to use the tool for self-evaluation and goal setting. Remind patients that true health is based on an optimally functioning nervous system and the value of a chiropractic checkup.
And one last thing. Just because a patient reveals a weakness in say, the financial spoke, that doesn't mean it's your responsibility to find them a new job, set a budget or "fix" their particular problem! Instead, see yourself as a concierge; directing them to books, CDs, websites, specialists and other resources that can help them take their overall health to the next level.
Bottom line? If you want more wellness patients, you'll want to talk about wellness and measure wellness. And that's just what the Wellness Wheel does.