On this episode of the podcast, we have guest host Kristen Brokaw on to interview Seth Conger, COO of Freedom Practice Coaching. Seth shares his journey to functional medicine and how he went from wanting to be a practitioner to helping practitioners scale up their practices, so they have better business models.

Highlights include:

  • What Freedom Practice Coaching is and how they can help your practice
  • How to implement a business model in your practice to free up time
  • What some of the business model examples look like
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Proactive Business Solutions for a Healthy Practice

James Maskell: Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help you transform your practice and the health of your community. This podcast is brought to you by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, who provide a range of options to help you deliver successful, effective, functional, and integrative medicine. To find out more and to get started, go to goevomed.com/lmrc. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, hi. I am here with Seth Conger. And Seth, that you have been a leader in the functional medicine space since about 2013. You led a seven-figure practice and your team, you guys have had work published in regards to cognitive decline… And also, you guys have had a start-up in the Alzheimer’s space. So you’ve done a lot of things. You’ve also been an alum on this podcast before. James has interviewed you in the past for your work at really creating an amazing, functional medicine practice that, probably most, would aspire to have. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Seth Conger: Gosh, thanks, Kristen. So good to see you. I know we have a long history, and first time getting interviewed from you, so this is going to be really exciting. I have a very unique perspective in the functional medicine space. I always wanted to be a doctor in traditional, allopathic route. However, in high school, I had a number of concussions, actually five of them, in about five months, competitive ski racing and then in lacrosse.

And that derailed and shifted my entire life. In fact, by the time I got to college, I was told by many medical professionals, including a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and then finally the Dean of Students, that there was nothing wrong with me. I just was in a new place. And I used to be a big fish in a little pond, and now this was the real world. And so I needed to get it together and shape up a little bit, and maybe not go down the path of pre-med because I probably just wasn’t smart enough.

And so I internalized that. And as a very impressionable 18-year-old, I ended up just believing them. Because what are you’re supposed to do when all of these really smart medical professionals and the Dean of students tell you these things? And I ended up getting my bachelor’s in economics and having this whole business career and marketing career, which was amazing. And it ended up leading me back to working with my father-in-law at his functional medicine practice in North Carolina.

He was at a point where he had been going for 10 years in a fabulous practice. They really specialized in hormone replacement therapy, nutrition, supplements… They were on the cutting edge for where they were from about the beginning of 2000, all the way up to about 2012. And what they were missing was, he was still working four to five days a week. He was the provider there, and he really wanted an exit plan and a path. They wanted to stop relying on just referrals because they knew that, although that was fantastic and that’s something that you claim to want to have, is 100% referral practice, that if something happens, all the sudden, it can all go down the tubes because there’s a single point of failure in there.

And he ended up bringing me on to help out with some marketing and some growth efforts of this practice. And I just got really caught up in this world and just opened the doors to me of understanding that there was a different side of medicine. It wasn’t just this allopathic, acute care, but really this whole world where we could actually see reversal of chronic disease. Where people were improving their health, where they’re optimizing their brain and body function.

And the funny thing was, we had some equipment lying around. That equipment was gathering dust, because as practitioners do, they see shiny objects at conferences and they want to purchase them. And then they bring them back, and they sit in the room because all of a sudden, oh, this takes somebody to operate this shiny object. And it turned out to be acute EEG machine, which is a functional brain mapping machine. And so I got to be a guinea pig.

We took a brain map, we sent that off to a neurologist, and he came back with a series of questions that started with, “How many brain injuries have you had?” And I said, “Well, none recently.” And he said, “That doesn’t matter. How many have you had in the past?” And I went into my story a little bit. And he said, “Seth, I think that you need a program. I think that you’re really struggling with things.” And he started just naming the symptoms that I had been hiding from for well over a decade, that no one knew. Including my father-in-law, didn’t know that I had these symptoms. That in college, I was falling asleep in class, but I couldn’t sleep at night. That I had this high-anxiety and depression. That I was more distracted than I had ever been before. And my behavior had totally shifted from how it was in high school.

This had gone on for a long time. So we started on a program, and that program included things like nutritional changes, and exercise, and fitness changes. It includes certain supplements, high doses of fish oil, and other supplements that I was on at the time. And it also included something called neurofeedback and biofeedback. And that put me into this rabbit hole of going down into the world of neurofeedback and biofeedback, and building out an entire division in our practice, which was actually what brought us onto the Evolution of Medicine the first time. Which was this functional medicine plus brain fitness practice that we had, that we were actively growing.

From there, my brain function drastically changed. It’s about six months of work, but I actually have objective evidence showing brain function testing of my processing speed, being the speed of the CPU in your brain, going from about 39% to 99th percentile. And it’s remained, since then. And so, just like so many people who’ve gotten into this industry because either they or a family member have had such a wonderful experience, I had that experience, but from a completely different perspective. I now knew that I had to be able to build a business model around this to help more people, rather than be the clinician who wanted to just help more people.

And that really got my start. From there, I’m sure we’ll expand on the journey throughout the rest of this interview. But that was how I got into functional medicine in the first place.

Kristen Brokaw: That is awesome. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know that complete story. That’s so exciting. Well, now, you are the COO at FPC, so Freedom Practice Coaching, and you’re also an alumni of Freedom Practice Coaching. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what your experience was, and how that led you to where you are now?

Seth Conger: Yeah, thanks. So for those of you, the listeners who do not know, Freedom Practice Coaching is a business coaching and personal growth mentorship group specifically for wellness practitioners. We work with medical doctors, with DCs, with naturopaths, some health coaches, even nutritionists, to help them build and scale their wellness businesses to give them more freedom in their life. So that their business is working for their personal life. Not necessarily them consistently working in their business.

And when I was back in North Carolina helping out my father-in-law, although I understood marketing and business principles and economics, and I had this background…What I didn’t understand was really medical business and wellness. I didn’t know anything about insurance coding. I didn’t understand the difference between fee-for-service, and programs, or groups, or community work, or anything like that. And we really needed some help in looking at changing around the model we had to get him to the goals and vision that he wanted.

My father-in-law was looking at maybe in three years or so, we can get to a point where we’re published for our work in brain health and really seen as this great center to go to, a center for excellence to go for different things like traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, and ADHD, and others. And he wanted to get into semi-retirement, and be able to take some more time off, and some longer vacations without the revenue of the practice dropping substantially.

At the same time, also wanted to provide an exit plan for the practice. Build it up to a point where we could have the choice in the options of maybe selling it, if he did want to retire. So he didn’t have to just fold it up at that point. So we were looking for a group that would help us to be able to do that. And at that point, we found Freedom Practice Coaching. Their model really helps anybody go from a fee-for-service business, or an insurance business that wants to grow and scale that business, and starts to transition them into more of a destination-based practice.

So instead of just charging for time, and charging for supplements, and charging for diagnostic labs, and hitting somebody up for their credit card every time… Much more talking and creating an emotional relationship, or connection, with your patient, to make an understanding that you as the practitioner and your team is going to help guide that person to a destination. That you guys are in it together, and that you’re going to package your services around that unique individual to help them get there.

And for us, it was so interesting because we were doing hormone replacement therapy, and nutrition, and supplements, and brain function, and QEGs of brain mapping, and all of these different things. And it was so crazy for our patients to understand, “Wait, who am I paying? And what am I doing? And how do I do this?” So once we adopted that model of packaging our services, and we can talk more about that with other models that work really well in functional medicine…But for us in particular, packaging our services was that key. And then educating individuals prior to them actually joining onboard as patients…Those two pieces together allowed us to grow significantly over time and really create that business that went from mid-five figures a month, to mid-six figures per month of revenue.

And then eventually, create a membership that kept the lights and the operations running in the business, so that everybody could take their foot off the gas if we wanted to and really make decisions on where we wanted to head next. And eventually that led to sale of the practice, which was very lucrative and beneficial for everybody who was involved. And that allowed me to go out and explore the world of startups, and eventually come back around to join FPC as the COO to help them to the next level in our journey.

Kristen Brokaw: Yeah, because you were a poster child for how the system can work. That’s interesting. We were talking a little bit before this interview on all the things that doctors struggle with.

Seth Conger: Yes.

Kristen Brokaw: And I’m going to assume that your father-in-law was absolutely no different, and you guys probably couldn’t have even done that without the guidance or coaching. You couldn’t have built all of that… Maybe you just didn’t even know. As I work with doctors, a lot of the things they tell me is that, “I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough money or resources.” Try to take the time off…Like you were saying about your father-in-law. “I don’t have enough time to learn,” or they wish they had more time to do the things that they love doing, but less of all the admin stuff. Just even running a practice, for a lot of the docs in functional medicine, that in and of itself… Who teaches you how to do that?

Seth Conger: Right.

Kristen Brokaw: And that’s an art. I don’t know, you can’t just put out a shingle and the whole system works. So I would like to talk about…I’m assuming your father-in-law struggled with a lot of these things. And how, over time, did you guys solve some of these problems? And what did you grow into? Did you guys offer groups? Did you have classes? How did you get the right kind of patient? A motivated, vetted patient. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

Seth Conger: Sure, so there’s a lot to unpack there. I know that you’ve spoken to far more practitioners than I have over the years. However, I think that you and I have each heard the similarities of the concerns. And both of us being in a unique position of not actually a practitioner ourselves, people tend to come to us asking different questions.

Well, they may ask you, but what’s the best protocol for gut health? Or how do I resolve mold symptoms? They come to me with questions, and have for years, with what is the best marketing strategy? How do I do Facebook ads? What is a better business model to actually scale? What the heck is EBITDA? How do I read a P&L? Basic, basic questions.

And what I realized over time was, the unfortunate thing in functional integrative medicine and also holistic lifestyle, and any way we want to call this, is that most practitioners tend to have the belief that if they want to get out of their big insurance group, or if they want to get out of the hospital, that the only way for them to do that is to start their own business. And so they do that based on their clinical acumen and their belief, their true, desperate belief and passion, in this is a better way, a better approach to medicine. Functional and integrated medicine, getting to the root cause, really working with someone’s lifestyle, getting them on a new path that’s going to be able to sustain for the remainder of their life. And improve their life, not just reduce symptoms.

And unfortunately, so many people miss this whole area of how do I start a business? They may not actually have the entrepreneurial mindset. That doesn’t mean they can’t be coached and trained into that. That doesn’t mean it’s something that they can’t learn. But usually, it’s something that is skipped. That they skip the Business 101 and the Entrepreneur 101, and move straight to hanging that shingle based on the clinical acumen that they have.

And that’s the area that I truly want more people to focus on. Because if they were to focus on what is the mindset of an entrepreneur? What types of skill sets do I need? And if I don’t have them, who do I need to partner with in order to make this a success? Whether that’s a course, or a group, or actually going back to school for some business, or even partnering with somebody who may be an operations person in your business.

I think those key skill sets of just Business 101 are going to make the difference between the practices that succeed and those that don’t. And above and beyond that is the business models. The group business models, the fee-for-service, the virtual model, or the brick and mortar, all these direct primary care programs… All of those different things can come later, really based on where you want to go.

But I think the key thing people need to understand is that question. Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be? And is it unique to you, or is this a common theme across the board? And we were joking around earlier because I said I wanted to talk a little bit about vision with doctors, and actually have them take a step back. Be more proactive with their vision, rather than reactive in their business. And I said, just the other day I was talking to a new practitioner. And I said, “What’s your dream practice?” And she said, “This multidisciplinary clinic. I want a therapist over here, and a juice bar, and a yoga room, and a couple different medical doctors in different specialties, all under one roof. And people will come, and there will be a cafeteria, and they’ll eat there.” And she said, “Isn’t that a brilliant idea?”

And I said, “Honestly, it’s an idea I’ve heard 100 times.” And when I mentioned that to you, Kris, and you’re like, “I heard that 1,000 times…”

Kristen Brokaw: Yep.

Seth Conger: We all have these grandiose visions, and I think that is a similarity across the board between practitioners who move from allopathic medicine into functional and integrative medicine. They believe they have to have this ultimate vision to get to. And what I want to encourage people is actually taking a step back and saying, what is the business that is going to work best for my passions of what do I want to give to my community? What do I want to give to, the people, my patients around me? And then also, how is this business going to work for me? For me personally, for my family, for my legacy…And creating a vision around that, rather than some ultimate retreat center, or ultimate multidisciplinary clinic.

The digital versions of that is, of course, writing a book, or developing an online educational course. All these things that people aspire to doing because they think that is going to bring them success. Where really, the success is how are you being on a daily basis? How are you showing up? Are you actually getting your patients to the destination that they want to get to? And that you have agreed on getting them to.

And a lot of that takes a step back from where you are right now, to really thinking those questions through and understanding do I have the right resources in my business? Do I have the right skill sets? Do I have the right coaching or the right model, to actually get my business to a place where it’s working for me? And where I’m delivering the best level of care that I can for those who are coming to me and expecting that level of care.

Kristen Brokaw: Wow. So let’s dive into that. So what is a model?

Seth Conger: Sure.

Kristen Brokaw: Or give us some examples of some different models. Or how do they know they need coaching? What would tell them that they need coaching? Or how do they take inventory of their skill sets? Help me unpack that. What did you do?

Seth Conger: Of course.

Kristen Brokaw: You had to ask yourself those questions.

Seth Conger: Yeah, so I think the first is that there’s many different basic personality assessments that people can take to understand where their skill sets lie. You can take an Enneagram, you can take a DiSC profile, a Kolbe test. Or you can simply talk to an expert or somebody who’s a little different then you, maybe who has a business mindset, who can show you where your skill sets may be lacking and point you in the right direction. So I think that’s one of the first pieces.

The second is looking towards more information materials and education on the business side, rather than just continuing to push down on the gas of more clinical education. I believe that the 20%… This is a general rule. But the 20% of the advanced education, after you’ve gotten your certifications and stuff in functional medicine or integrative medicine…Anything above that, 20% of it is going to get you 80% of what you need. But most people only look at about 1% of the business coaching or the business education on that. And so they really need to be doing more over there.

So just understanding where you’re at, where your weaknesses are, and being okay with the vulnerability of saying, “I don’t have this, and I need to find it.” Now, the partnership works so well with my father-in-law and I because he was a phenomenal practitioner and clinician and a great visionary. I happen to be a really good operator. And I was able to take that vision and actually frame it out, and say, “Here’s how long it’s going to take. Here’s the investment that’s needed. Here are the people we’re going to have to hire. Do we really want to do this?”

And many times we’d say, no. We don’t want to do this. Because when you look at it on paper and you see the whole thing framed out, you go, “You know what? Gosh, we don’t want to go get a government contract for PTSD because it’s going to take us three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to do that.” Or we don’t want to build that multidisciplinary center because next thing you know, we’re going to have a payroll of $250,000 a month, and maybe we don’t want to carry that weight and anxiety of all of those individuals, who may or may not be producing at that level.

So I think just understanding really where you want to go and having that framed out. And if you do want to get to a place where you’re growing and scaling a business, where you’re actually creating a legitimate business, not just a practice where you’re bringing one, or two, or three people in every once in a while… And there’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of people may really value doing this as a hobby, as a side project.

But if you want this to be your profession, and this is going to support you and your family professionally, it is going to be your salary, you’re going to have employees, you’re going to be taking care of patients, and you’re really building this to grow in scale…Then you may need to take a hard look and understand if you have that education, if you have the right model, and if you have coaching to get you there.

So some of those models that work really well for people, depending on where they want to grow and who they want to work with, could be direct primary care. If they’re a primary care physician, they like that model… They want to come up with a membership model that’s going to work for them and work with individuals month, over month, over month, and spread that cost out over time… The direct primary care model works phenomenally. Actually, Dr. Tusek, right up the street in Boulder from here, is one of the premier experts in the entire world on this model. It works really well if that’s where you want to practice.

If you want to do really high-end, deep, difficult cases, where you’re working with mold, and Lyme, and traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD, and these areas that are multi-system degeneration, then you’re going to need a model that is allowing you to charge a real high-dollar level so that you can fit in all the services into that. And you’re probably going to need a good group of a team, including other practitioners, and coaches, and everything else. And you’re probably going to want to establish programs and ongoing memberships because those cases take far longer than three months. It’s not just a simple gut detox and put somebody on a new fitness regimen.

And if you’re somewhere in the middle, what you may want to look at is a model that involves something like group events or group coaching. Where you bring in people, 15 or 20 people at a time, and you walk them through lifestyle. And you teach nutrition one month, and exercise the next month, and detoxification the next month, and mindset…And you do these group classes to elevate your time and your touchpoints to the people around you.

You could also have a virtual model where you’re spending less time and people aren’t sitting around in waiting rooms. Or you can be creating those VIP memberships that I was talking about, and even programs. And that’s the model that I’d love to dive into a little bit deeper with because it was so successful for us when we had a little bit of a larger practice and we were creating something that had very, very long-term value and high-clinical efficacy as well.

Kristen Brokaw: Well, absolutely. That’s what I was going to say is, tell us a little bit about how you did this. Of all those things you just mentioned, I do know you went from insurance-based to a membership model. So tell us about that transition. What did it look like? And really, what are the advantages of it? And maybe any disadvantages, if any?

Seth Conger: Yeah, so programs can get a little complex. And so, what we’ll do, Kristen, is we’ll post a link in the notes where I want to give a guide to everybody. That is all the steps they need. They can literally fill it out. It’s just a nice PDF that helps them build their programs if they’d like.

But a program has a few different elements to it. The first element is, you want to include everything that you believe is going to get that patient to the destination that you guys agree upon. And in order to agree upon a destination, you must have an emotional connection and a meeting with that individual before they become a patient of yours. Before you spend the time with that individual to have that meeting, be as it’s such valuable time, you want to educate a group of individuals and make sure that they are the right type of person to come into your practice.

And I think that’s such a key from the beginning, is finding your niche. Understanding who you want to work with, what that avatar is. What do they look like? How much money do they make? What issues are they dealing with? Symptoms or conditions. What do you not want to work with? And this is going to help you pare down who you can be most successful with. But really educating these individuals in the differences between what they’re used to, allopathic insurance-based medicine, versus this new destination-type model, this connection, and this journey that you’re going to partner and co-labor with them to get to this destination.

The education is so important, to get to that point, before you can actually package your services because that needs to be an individual effort. So everybody’s going to be a little bit different. However, there’s going to be a similarities across the board.

Everybody needs to have either an educational curriculum on lifestyle, or they need to be put into a group class so that you’re not spending every single one of your meetings talking about gluten over and over, and over, and over again for your benefit, for your patient’s benefit, and for your revenue’s bottom line. So having an educational curriculum, a digital educational curriculum, or a binder is one way to do that. Bringing everybody into group classes, having a health coach, is another way to do that. But including that as part of the services.

And then you also want to include any ancillary services or products that you believe that person’s going to need to help them to their destination. This would include diagnostic testing that you may do at the beginning, middle, and even at the end. It could include supplements that you believe that this person is going to need, or that everybody may need. I know a lot of practitioners, they have a top 10 list, and they say, every person who comes into my practice needs to be on these. You can include those right into your program and guarantee that that person is going to adhere to it because they’re not going to have to think about pulling out their credit card every time they walk into the building or reorder on one of the dispensary’s online.

So building those in, and then also building in your expertise, and your visits. So including that in your program, right up front, allows the individual in front of you, the patient in front of you, to understand how much you value your own services. And how much you value the destination that you’re going to be helping guide them to. And I think this is that second real key that is a breakdown for so many practitioners, is they don’t actually value themselves.

They don’t value their services at the dollar amount that they should be. But if you ask somebody after they get to that destination, how much would you have paid for this? Most of the time, people have said, “Anything. It was priceless. I would have flown across the country twice a week to get these services because I’m so much better. I just didn’t believe it upfront, and so I was only willing to pay $175 per visit. And I wanted to get my supplements at GNC instead of through [Ortho Molecular Products] because I wanted to save some money.”

So I think it’s so key that the practitioner in a conversation with a potential patient, values themselves as much as they want the others to value them. And this works across the board in anything outside of medicine. Both patients and many practitioners have this idea that if insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s not valuable. And we have to distance that. We have to understand that we are asking people to invest in the future of their health, not spend some expense.

And expense is something you’re going to throw away or you’re going to consume. An investment is something that is going to compound over time and get better. And so that conversation has to be had around where those services are valued. And then once you package all of those services together, it should be able to get that person to a destination. And then, it’s just a simple agreement of what the commitments are. What am I as a practitioner going to do in this? What is my team going to be responsible for? And what are you responsible for to get us both to this destination that you want to get to?

That is a program model. And that model allows you to very clearly understand who are going to be the committed patients that you bring in, what they need to do, and what your team needs to do. What your margins are going to be going into it, so you can clearly understand, if I bring in 5 new patients this month, or 10 new patients this month at these margins… This is where my business is going to be. So it allows you to start being proactive month over month with your business, rather than reactive. Getting to the end of the month and saying, “Oh God, if I don’t work three extra days and fill up my schedule, then we’re not going to make payroll.” That is a terrible way to run your business. And it’s really difficult for people to survive running that fee-for-service, reactive state. Rather than a much more predictable, proactive model like programs, which of course can rollover when they’re done into a membership that provides that ongoing income to your practice. Where you can really understand how you can grow and how you can pull back.

And then if you take a vacation or you take time off, your businesses and losing money just because you’re not in a chair generating that revenue. So I love that model of programs. It worked really well for me across multiple businesses. Both a brick and mortar, functional medicine practice in North Carolina, and then also a venture-backed startup that was purely virtual care at a very, very high-dollar amount for a very difficult condition of early Alzheimer’s. And we see that model of programs work very well for the about the 500 practitioners that we’ve worked with at FPC as well.

Kristen Brokaw: Wow, so you really laid it out. I couldn’t agree more. There was actually a…Her name’s Keri Sutton. She’s been on this podcast before. But she does the group model as an intro. Your first meeting with their practice is in a group, and you are learning about their practice, and they’re learning about you. And they’re just saying, this is what it looks like to work with us here. And she said that’s been the number one best thing they ever did. It’s free. You come, and you learn about us, and we learn about you. And that way, expectations are set.

Seth Conger: Yes. And that’s so important, right? Expectations across the board. Not only with your patients, but also your team members. Most practitioners haven’t, in many cases, managed a team of practice managers, and administrators, and health coaches…And setting the appropriate expectations with them. Setting the appropriate expectations with yourself, of where you’re going, and where you want to be in your family of starting a business.

I think you’ve really hit on it that sometimes we need to take a step back, and actually have those conversations, and set appropriate expectations with the people closest to us, or the people we’re doing business with, so that everybody’s on the same page and that we can hold each other accountable as we move towards that destination we all want to get to.

Kristen Brokaw: Right. Nobody thinks about it like that though.

Seth Conger: Right.

Kristen Brokaw: Because it’s just never been done that way. And if there’s one thing that I hear from doctors, they say lifestyle’s everything.

Seth Conger: Yes.

Kristen Brokaw: And yet, they never have time to get to it.

Seth Conger: Of course.

Kristen Brokaw: So you said the second thing is, you got to have this curriculum. You got to have this educational, lifestyle piece. If it’s group visits, or some type of a class…You say class. I love a group visit because I think a lot of times, classes, people just think free. But it’s included, right? In your model.

Seth Conger: Yes.

Kristen Brokaw: But then also then, building in the testing and the supplements. So that the person isn’t like, “Hmm…Should I get this supplement or this one?”

Seth Conger: Right.

Kristen Brokaw: And they’re bartering on their health. No, it’s already been included. And then they don’t have to think. So that’s brilliant.

Seth Conger: Yeah. I think with the amount that we are hit by distractions throughout the day, our ability to make decisions and appropriate decisions has been drastically driven down. And if you ask people to make one more decision in their day, especially later on in the day, the chances of them just saying, yes, because they understand it’s in the best interest of their health six months from now… The chances of them actually making that decision and following through are so small.

And I think we have to understand that, and understand human behavior, and get that the behavior has a whole lot to do with people getting better health-wise. More than just the personalized medicine piece. Personalized medicine and lifestyle are huge, and they have to be layered in there. But if people aren’t committed to getting better and they’re not doing the appropriate behaviors to get there, it’s not going to happen. And I think we all know that.

And so setting that understanding in the beginning, especially through a model that just demands that participation and demands the commitment from the beginning, and doesn’t ask them to make any other decisions outside things that are going to be in benefit of their health… So not asking them to pull out their credit card. Not asking them to throw down more money for different services. Not saying at some point, “Well, now, you need this, and this, and this…” That just breaks the trust level. What you want to do is set up that trust level. Set up the destination that you both agree you can get to, those levels of commitments. And then, really just work through the basics of human behavior of building habits, and setting expectations, and holding each other accountable to get there together.

And if you do that, not only is your business going to be better because it’s going to be more predictable. It’s going to be a more of a proactive business. And you can understand where it’s heading, and really manage your hiring processes, and time off, and all of those things in a better way…But you’re going to achieve better clinical outcomes as well because your patients are going to be more committed to the entire journey.

And they’re going to get to the end of the destination they want, and you’re going to have great data on it. So you won’t just have a testimonial of some anecdotal evidence. You’re probably going to build in diagnostics in the beginning, and diagnostics at the end, and you’re going to know exactly how many supplements you gave that person and what they did with their lifestyle. And all of a sudden, you have a case study, rather than just an anecdotal testimonial.

And so, as your clinical results rise up, you can even start being more a part of your community, partner with other practitioners…You’ll get the better name in your group. You can start sending some clients that maybe you don’t want to deal with to other practitioners in your community. I know, Kristen, you and I are so big on practitioner communities and really working on ways to create much, much larger groups in the functional and integrative medicine field. And part of that is going to be sharing referrals back and forth and working with the cases that you’re best at.

And I think doing that, you have to first step back and understand, do I have that right model to ensure that I am going to be successful with somebody that another practitioner sends me?

Kristen Brokaw: And I’m sure if I’m a physician I’m listening to this, they’re thinking, “Okay, great. How much does it cost?” So it sounds like you have some type of a membership model that’s like you’re in active care. And then maybe as you progressed and we’re not “fixing major things” anymore, you’re just maintaining…That’s maybe a different theme.

Seth Conger: Absolutely. So there’s many different ways to set it up. And when you get into programs, they tend to be a little bit higher dollar. However, if somebody’s stuck with their fee-for-service care over the course of time, and adherence drops off in that model pretty significantly. But the amount they would spend over time is probably around the same for a six-month program for somebody with diabetes, or heart disease, or an auto-immune disorder, is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of around $6,000.

And there’s many different ways to finance that. There’s multiple finance companies out there that will drop that level down to about $200 a month for a patient. After that, you can build a VIP membership. We had three different tiers from $99 a month up to $499 a month, depending on what those tiers included. And people paying the $500 a month, they could afford that. They didn’t need to finance that. And the others who were paying 99, they were getting some regular health coaching, and just staying on top, being more proactive.

We think about the program as getting to the destination of really repairing, or reversal, of the condition that someone’s coming in with. And then the membership is much more about keeping them proactive, keeping them healthy, and making sure that anything new evidence-wise, or health-wise that comes into the practice, is given to them first on the front lines, so that they have the first opportunity of it.

And I know that that number 6,000 probably shocks some practitioners, but it doesn’t shock the patients at all if they are educated properly and if you truly believe that dropping their A1C down by a point or two, or having them lose 25 to 30 pounds of weight, or their brain function increasing by 20, 30, 40%, or then becoming super-mom or super-dad or super-husband… If you truly value that, then you know that’s worth far more than the $6,000, and that’ll come through in that agreement. And I think that’s the best way to do it, to break through that mindset shift.

Kristen Brokaw: That’s awesome. Well, I will wrap up, and I think this gives practitioners a ton to think about. But you mentioned the document that you’re going to send us a link to.

Seth Conger: Yes. It’s really a blueprint guide that is actually going to walk people through how to create customized programs. So it’ll layer in your visits, your supplement budget, your diagnostic bank, the educational curriculum… It tells you all the pieces that need to be in there. It is a guide that Freedom Practice Coaching has developed and has given to you, so we’ll have a link in the show notes.

People can also go to freedompracticecoaching.com to visit. And we have webinars and workshops that go into a much deeper dive into these areas of pre-education, and programs, and memberships, and that emotional connection and journey. All of that information again is free, because we’re looking to give as much as we possibly can to the community to elevate that level of basic business understanding and acumen in this entire industry, because we want everybody to rise together.

And the more people who have a more structured model and a more proactive practice, the better the health results are going to be for the patients, the more recognized this industry is going to be as a whole, and the better we’re all going to do for it. So would love to have people check us out. And we’re just really happy to be back on here. I’m excited, years later, to be back on the podcast, and I know we are at Freedom Practice Coaching, too.

And we have some really exciting things coming up in a partnership, so I’m sure that information will come out later. But just a little teaser for folks that we’re building some pretty cool things in the industry together to elevate the entire industry.

Kristen Brokaw: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Seth. And everyone, definitely check out how to build a better program. Thank you.

Seth Conger: Thank you so much, Kristen.

James Maskell: Thanks for listening to the evolution of medicine podcast. Please share this with colleagues who need to hear it. Thanks so much to our sponsors, the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. This podcast is really possible because of them. Please visit goevomed.com/lmrc to find out more about their clinical tools like the group visit toolkit. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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