Imagine going to a doctor's appointment and everyone in the office seems to know you almost as well as you know yourself. No explanations or apologies needed. They already understand how you like to be treated—from whether or not you enjoy casual conversation to the way you prefer to receive information. During your appointment, the doctor discusses not only your current state of health, but also your hopes and dreams for the future. You leave with a clearer understanding of yourself and your health, and what wellness means for your life and work.
A good friend of mine, Dr. Lee Rice, founder of Life Wellness Institute in San Diego, California, has made this approach to medicine a reality. He created health care personality profiles for all his patients. The genesis was helping corporate executives find work-life balance to enhance their wellness and productivity, but it resulted in Dr. Rice’s own office boosting productivity.
When Dr. Rice incorporated this brain-based method to his practice, the whole format of his own productivity changed, from how much time he spends with patients, to the ways he makes himself available, to the kinds of consulting he does.
With an emphasis on both mind and body, Dr. Rice envisioned a new role for himself as a doctor, mentor, coach, and advocate, helping patients achieve greater quality of life by helping them recognize their thinking style and behavior, habits, and the choices they make—and then bringing their behavior into line with their values for maximum effectiveness.
With his new approach to patient care, Dr. Rice says, "I recaptured my medical soul. Now, he says, his practice is "all about relationships."
Sounds more personal but less productive right? Well, it depends on how you define productive. Dr. Rice's personal definition of productivity changed from how many patient appointments he could squeeze into one day to giving each patient whatever amount of time he or she needs and practicing ongoing preventive, proactive medicine. This translated into more long-term relationships and bigger business for Rice. And, it even made a difference on traditional measures of productivity.
For example, Rice's office staffers used to interact with every patient in much the same way, relying on intuition to modify the way they interacted with each individual. Now patient care relies on science. Every patient has a brain profile. Dr. Rice and his patients go over the profiles together, and the profiles become part of the office medical records. He looks at communication styles—how expressive and assertive the patients are. He takes care to view behaviors like flexibility to understand a treatment plan.
Dr. Rice notes, "Having access to the profiles helps us maximize the quality of care for our patients. We have improved our understanding of who they are—and they know who we are."
It also means greater utility for the time spent in the office and more success in out-of-office wellness programs. How does it work? Let's take a closer look at why Dr. Rice learned to apply it to help executives looking to boost wellness. "I was intrigued by the fact that some of my most accomplished, successful executives knew what they 'should' do for optimum health and personal productivity—yet they could not follow through,” Dr. Rice told me. "What was preventing them from making the leap from 'well' to 'weller than well'? I realized that I could boost their ability to be productive in wellness by showing them how to get organized in a way their brain likes."
Here's some of the techniques Dr. Rice uses:
- The patient who thinks analytically likes data, is usually good at math, and will take a systematic route as long as its effectiveness has been proven. If an analytical thinker wants to lose weight, Dr. Rice will say, “Your skill set is to analyze what you are eating, so read labels.” He then provides a detailed three-point approach for checking: 1. Calories per serving, 2. Calories from fat, and 3. Quality of fat (saturated, polyunsaturated, etc.).
- The patient who tends to be very structured and practical will do whatever the doctor recommends. If this patient wants to lose weight, Dr. Rice will provide handouts and a daily diet plan that the patient will most likely follow to the letter.
- A very social patient will need other people to get things done. If weight loss is the goal, Dr. Rice might recommend joining a weight loss group, hiring a personal trainer, and choosing an accountability buddy. This patient will also work hard to please the doctor.
- Patients with a very conceptual, innovative brain don't like analysis, and would never follow a diet regimen. These patients need to recognize and connect with their personal dreams, and manage their health so they can achieve them. If an innovative patient wants to lose weight, Dr. Rice will explain the principles behind carbohydrates and blood sugar and let them reach their own conclusions about what to eat.
Which of these sound like you? For entrepreneurs, extra stress is a given, so you especially need a mind-body approach to achieve peak performance. Think about your favorite way of getting motivated. It will help you achieve your goals, physically, and at work.
A healthier body has been proven to ramp up brain power, boost memory, and aid problem-solving. Clearly, wellness—in which an entire work force can be mentally healthy and energized—would make any company more productive. But the real opportunity is in thinking through what true productivity means for you and your organization overall.
For Dr. Lee Rice, the prescription for productivity was to move away from traditional measures. "Medicine has lost the personal touch," he says. "Doctors no longer have enough time with patients. I decided that meaningful encounters were best for both my patients and my business."