Increase patients’ success rates through effective goal setting

By February 14, 2019Patient Education

How to help your patients effectively reach their rehabilitation and wellness goals.

A goal without a plan is just a wish
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

One of the most frustrating things for patients AND providers is not achieving treatment goals. This is not only affecting patient success rates but can also impact your business goals. Dissatisfied patients will be less likely to refer or unwilling to come back to your practice for future treatments.

Here are some ideas on how to create a roadmap that will help you navigate your patients towards the successful achievement of their goals.

#1 Get buy-in from the patient
Making the ‘why’ of treatment goals relevant and tangible for the patient is one of the major keys to make them successful. Helping patients picture how their life could be improved will increase intrinsic motivation. Do they want to get back to playing a specific sport or return to their favorite activity? Do they want to be able to play with their kids again? Try to include these questions during their assessments to engage them before even discussing more specific goals.

#2 Define objectives with a clear timeline
An objective goal describes a measurable outcome that must be reached within a specific time frame. Examples include range of motion, orthopedic test and x-ray findings. Focusing on the objective measurable facts are easy to track and provide patients with clear evidence of their improvement.

#3 Support outcome goals with performance or process goals
Outcome goals are measurable results of specific behaviors such as the completion of an exercise program. A process goal describes the execution of a specific behavior that contributes to the desired outcomes. Examples are: performing an exercise program 3 times per week, walking 10,000 steps per day, etc. Process goals can be directly influenced by the patient and thus be predictable and easy to track.

A combination of outcome and process goals is a good strategy to motivate patients and will help them understand their part of the treatment process.

#4 Combine goals and Self-monitoring
Defining outcome and process goals is important. However, tracking the desired behaviors will increase the chances of actually achieving them. Self-monitoring seems to be specifically effective for process goals. Recording the performance of activities that contribute to the desired outcomes can increase motivation and program adherence.

#5 Provide tools and behavioral strategies to support goal completion
Now that the patient has a road map, it’s time for a reality check and strategies to decrease the likelihood of program drop-outs. Are the progress goals compatible with the patient’s daily schedule? Not having enough time to exercise is one of the major reasons why people drop out of exercise programs. Address this by creating realistic expectations and by developing exercise protocols that match patients’ time commitments are crucial to set them up for success.

Does the patient have all the tools in place to perform what they are asked to do? Do they have proper information to correctly perform their exercises? Are there further strategies that can support program adherence such as using reminders, clearly defined times to perform home exercise programs, etc.? Discussing these questions with the patient can help to improve compliance and minimize frustration on both sides.

Click HERE to download our patient handout “3 Tips That Will Help You to Stick to Your Exercise Program” or access it directly from the resources section of your WebExercises Provider Portal. 

We know that every provider is working under pressure but time to work through these recommendations, will not only make a huge difference for patients’ outcomes, but also show them how much you care.

Our Story
WebExercises was created by clinicians who wanted to find a better way to help patients succeed with their exercise rehabilitation programs. As clinicians we are limited with time therefore WebExercises was developed to efficiently design exercise programs. We offer an engaging patient experience that can be monitored virtually by the clinician keeping your patients motivated outside of your office.  Since 2005 we have delivered over 20 million exercises saving clinicians time and improving patient adherence. To find out more how WebExercises can improve your practice call us 866-411-4825 or visit

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Friederike Aprea

Author Friederike Aprea

Rike (Friederike) Aprea, MA, CPT, CES, BCS is the VP of Business Development and Marketing Strategy at WebExercises. She previously worked for Reebok, BMW, and the Adidas Group in the US, Asia and Europe. She is also a NASM certified Behavior Change Specialist.

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