Best Practices for Creating & Delivering Your Bariatric Pre-Op Patient Education

Aug 24, 2022

Today I want to talk to you about your pre-op educational program you have for your surgical patients.  I bring it up because when I consult with practices it’s one of the most common things that comes up in terms of sharing what they’re doing. So I’m going to divide it up into two sections. The first one is what I think you should include in your pre-op program. The second thing is the best ways deliver that information to your patients. Both are equally important because they’re going to affect how many phone calls you get from patients, the time your staff is spending doing the education and the physician as well. Everybody has to be involved in this. How you set it up can cause an increased work load on your staff or it can decrease their workload. It also can significantly affect the number of phone calls you get into your office, as well as your patient outcomes.

The first thing, in terms of what to include in the program, is to create a book. We’ve created a guide for our patients called, “Your Guide to Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery.” The guide includes all the information we share with them once they are scheduled for surgery. When we know they’re actually going to be having surgery, we have them take an entire class and we provide them with this guide book so they have it. I’m going to talk about a few other ways to deliver that information as well to help reinforce it for all those different learners out there.   In the guide we talk about why education is important and why they need to understand this is a life-changing event. They need to fully understand that. It’s just a tool to lose weight. It’s not a magic bullet. We like to be very straight forward in terms of making sure they understand those expectations.

We talk about obesity in general and how it affects their overall health and co-morbidities.  How can those be improved with weight loss surgery? We’re also re-enforcing the importance and the benefit of weight loss surgery. The, we talk about the various weight loss surgery procedures. You might think it’s already been covered in the webinar and the decision has already been made. That’s true, but it’s a good re-cap for them. Sometimes it’s information to be shared with a loved one who wasn’t able to make it to the webinar or to the seminar. Everyone learns in different way. We talk a lot about behavior modification. It’s so critical to long-term success. It has to be a part of the pre-op program. We don’t candy coat this. We talk about the psychological involvement. They need to understand this is truly a life-changing event and you have their best interest at heart when you’re talking to them about changing their behaviors.  It’s especially important that first year when a lot of weight loss is occurring with or without a lot of behavior modifications. Granted they are modifying their diet, but if they don’t change those underlying behaviors in terms of their overall nutrition, it can adversely affect their results. Everyone loses weight after weight loss surgery, but it’s a matter of continuing that path and keeping it off. I’m preaching to the choir here, but they need to understand that.

Surgical experience is another aspect. You want to talk to them about preparing for surgery, pre-op testing, the day of surgery, and what to expect exactly while they’re there. You also want to talk about the post-op follow-up, how frequently you’ll be seeing them and how your patient education occurs afterwards. Talk to them about support groups, personal training, or fitness activities you have included for them. You want to make sure they understand the program you offer so that they can maximize use of it. It will not only benefit the patient, but you as well.

As you know, one of the most critical things is their dietary behavioral guidelines. That includes what they should be doing before surgery: any weight loss efforts required, liver shrinking diet, what to expect those first two weeks, and transitioning real food. We talk a lot about protein, controlling carbohydrates, and why that’s important. Having that information and spelling it out is really important.

People often negate exercise, but it’s an important part of your pre-operative education. You need to understand that’s a part of improving and enhancing your overall outcomes.

We always give tips on overall success. There are common culprits of slower weight loss or weight re-gain. I’ll probably cover that in another podcast. We talk about keys to successful weight loss, helpful resources, informative websites, and information about our support groups. We also include our operative consent forms. We go through all that and review it so that when they meet the physician for their pre-op visit, it’s not the first time they’re taking a peek at it. They understand it. We actually have a separate one for the hospital, as well as for the practice. It ensures they understand what they’re undergoing.

We also include a personal weight loss graph for them, notes and checklists for pre-op and post-op phases. Some of those checklists are really important.

I happen to be a publisher. We do actually publish this for them. They take it home and it helps if they have a question because we can refer them to that page that outlines exactly what they’re allowed to be eating during that phase, and what they are allowed to be eating.  It just helps reinforce that. Of course we touch on medications as well.

So that’s what we include. You might think it’s overkill and how are you going to deliver all that to the patients? I do think it’s really important because it helps to allay any fears they may have and adequately prepares them for the best experience they can have prior, during, and after weight loss surgery.  That’s what we recommend including. If you ever wanted to see a guideline about preparing for weight loss surgery, you can go to Amazon and you can purchase my husband’s book called, “Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery.” A lot of that same information is in the book. You can use that information or you can modify it. If you want to white label anything we have, I can always set that up for you.

In terms of how to deliver that information, as you know people learn in a lot of different ways. Some people learn from reading. Some people require auditory reinforcement. Some people are very learners. Other people need to do it. We ensure we are touching upon all those ways for people to learn. How are you going to do that?

A good way to do that is in a written book format.  Another way is to provide a membership site where it includes video of your surgeon and staff delivering some information.  You can do an extensive class. We do a 3-hour pre-operative class where we go through all this information with slides. It includes staff from the office and also the bariatric coordinator from the hospital. It’s very specific in terms of what’s covered there.  We also give them any lab orders they may need and outline all their visits. We have them take a true/false test. We read through all the consent forms. We encourage them to bring at least one significant other.

So you can do it as a one-on-one course at the office, a class, a book, and a membership site with videos to help reinforce it. We will oftentimes send those videos to them before they even get to the class so they can be better prepared. A lot of people won’t take the time to do that because they’re taking care of a lot of other things in their life. But, it’s something they can do if they desire. When they leave, they’re armed with everything they need for pre-op, during surgery, and post-op.

The education doesn’t end there. We’re actually a concierge practice. But, we have moved away from doing it one-on-one because we found the class helps in a number of other ways. It helps the patients get to know other patients that are having surgery. They build a bond and they’re own little support group. We make sure they understand everything including logging in to the on-line information. We introduce them to our private FB page so they can connect with people. It saves your staff time from doing it over and over again. There’s more interaction, so it’s more engaging. It’s better than just having one person there. At the class we do their pre-op photos and we orient them to the fitness equipment in the gym. It’s a lot in one day, but we prep them for that. By doing it this way, our post-op calls have significantly decreased. The staff are happy in terms of the way they deliver the information. The front desk staff aren’t as tied up making appointments. It has increased our patient satisfaction, engagement, and camaraderie.

We even include a portion from our retail store with different products so they can understand what we offer. We give them free samples. We tie in a lot of different aspects of the practice. Whenever you’re doing education, you need to think about from a big practice perspective and how you can incorporate all the wonderful things you offer. Make sure they really understand what’s available to them.

That’s a really brief overview. I’m getting ready to launch a new membership course which I’m super excited about.  It’s going to be called The Bariatric Business Boss. It’s really intended for surgeons and their staff to help arrange for all the resources so they can make sure they have everything their patients could possible need. Also, keep them engaged in terms of set content for what they can include for their patients. They’ll have lots of different tools they can use right in the practice to make your job a lot easier as well as improving patient outcomes and the process more fun. I’m really passionate about this. I love helping practices be the best they can be. I’m super excited. Watch for that. That’s going to be coming out soon. I’ll be sharing more information. In the meantime if I can help you or your practice in any way, reach out to me. It’s [email protected]

I can’t wait to connect. We’ll talk soon. Thank you.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.