024: How To Host a Patient Challenge





Well, hello, my friends. Welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. I’m your host, Ronda Nelson and I’m super excited that you are hanging out with me today. I’ve got a topic that I especially love because I’m always up for a challenge. Not always a challenge by someone else, but I just love to be challenged in general. Give me a problem, I like to solve it. I want to talk to you about how you might be able to use a challenge, and I’ll describe more about that in a minute. But how can you use a challenge with your patients to start off the new year?


First, let’s talk about what a challenge is or what it does. As I mentioned, a challenge solves a problem, it’s usually something that a patient is having trouble achieving on their own. They keep hitting bumps and tripping over themselves and getting in their own way. When you can offer them a challenge, what you’re doing is you are being the guide and you’re just helping them by encouraging, inspiring, and motivating them on a daily basis to reach an intended or a predetermined outcome in a shorter amount of time.


Challenges help patients achieve quick wins, that’s probably the easiest way to think of it. Another huge benefit of a challenge is that it establishes your credibility as a practitioner. Your area of expertise becomes very highlighted. For example, if your perfect patient is a female, in her reproductive years who deals with PCOS, then you may want to do a challenge helping her regulate her blood sugar because that’s a feature we see with PCOS. It might be that you want to help them lose weight or what we often do are these 10 and 21-Day detoxes.


Whatever your challenge is, we want it to be around the focus of your practice, i.e., your ideal patient. If you’re not serving women, then don’t do a challenge with women. Pick the thing that you know most of your patient base are going to love and will get excited about. Another great benefit of doing a challenge is that it helps you qualify the right type of patient. It lets you see who raises their hand and says, “I’m in, I want to do that challenge with you.” They want to have more of what you do, who you are, and what you offer. By motivating and inspiring them to action, you’re establishing your credibility, and you’re also becoming their superhero because you’re helping them achieve a win in an area that they may otherwise be struggling a little bit.


Now, there are several different ways to structure a challenge. You want to structure this over a predetermined period of time. You would generally want to do maybe a 5, 7,10, or 30-day, something like that, depending on the challenge. If you are going to do a weight loss challenge, you’re probably not going to choose a five-day challenge because that’s not enough time, but a 30-day challenge. However, 30 days for somebody to hang in with you might cause someone to get tired and want to bail.


What I would recommend is to start with a shorter challenge, maybe a 7 or a 10-day, and just know that you’re going to be very involved for those 7 or 10 days. Whatever you do, don’t schedule that challenge when you’re going to go on vacation, have a travel day, or have an especially heavy patient load that day. You’re going to want to block time out in your schedule to be able to manage it.


Now, what are you going to choose for a challenge? There are three questions you want to answer. Number one, ask yourself, “Where are my patients at right now?” In other words, what’s their comfort level with their health? Is your patient population people that are just learning about their health and they don’t know anything? Or are you getting really complex cases and patients who know a lot, but they’re just stuck? You have to determine a starting point. Where are your patients at and what is it that will best benefit them? That’s number one.


The second way to determine what type of challenge to offer is to ask yourself, where do my patients want to be? What is their desired outcome? Where are they starting from? And then, where do they want to be in the future? Do they want to lose weight? Do they want to be healthier? Do they want to have better skin? Maybe they want to learn how to meditate. Or maybe they want to be more physically fit. Think about what would benefit your patients. Where do they want to be and just can’t quite get there? How can you provide them the steps necessary to help them be successful?


The third thing that leads us here is, what do they need in order to be successful? What tools or resources do they need to get them from point A to point B? So again, number one, what’s their starting point? Number two, what’s the desired endpoint? And number three, what do they need to do to help themselves reach that endpoint? We want to get them there faster and get them excited about the results that they’re achieving. That’s our objective. We want to make sure that they end up with a big win.


There are two types of challenges. I know I’m throwing a lot at you today, so grab a pen and paper if you haven’t already and we’re going to keep going. There are two basic types of challenges: an educational challenge and then an outcome or a goal challenge. I suppose really, both of them are goal-driven because we do have an endpoint that we want to get them to, but maybe you have patients who just need education.


For instance, you may do a challenge around how to structure your daily food intake, and every day you break down a different aspect of their meal. So day one, you’re looking at good quality proteins, day two, you’re looking at vegetables, day three, you’re talking about the healthiest fruits, day four is fats, day five, nuts and seeds, day six, you’re talking about eating raw foods versus cooked, and then, day seven you wrap it all up. It could be something like that, where you’re just educating them and there’s no end finish line, so to speak.


The other one would be a goal-related challenge like detoxification, as I mentioned. At the end of the 10 or 21 days, our goal is that they have more energy, clearer skin, your elimination system is improved, and you just know that you’ve done a great thing for your body. Again, there’s an outcome. If you’re doing a weight loss challenge helping a patient strengthen their core, you could give them 10 minutes of core work every day and then incorporate checks ins, both you and the patient. Remember, you want to be really engaged during this process.


I would caution you about weight loss challenges unless you have that specific type of patient coming into your office. It’s not because I don’t think they’re possible, but rather, I wouldn’t want someone to say it didn’t work or be unhappy at the end. If the challenge is to lose 10 pounds in 30 days and they only lose eight pounds, then they won’t feel like they’ve won.


You want to make sure that your challenge focuses on the goal, but also that it focuses on their success. Eight pounds lost could be a big win for that person in 30 days. If you do a weight loss challenge, just make sure there are no secondary tertiary issues that might be preventing them from losing weight quickly, like a thyroid condition or a PCOS. So, just be careful with weight loss. That’s one challenge you could do with the right type of patient, but just be careful.


Now I’m going to give you some ideas. In the show notes, you will also find a list of my top 50 health and wellness-related challenge ideas. I’ve got you covered, but here are a few to get your wheels turning. You could do some kind of a movement challenge. I have actually done two of these and have loved them both.


Both were 10 days and for the first one, the doctor and practitioner were showing different types of movement activating muscles that I didn’t even know I had. I was a little sore, but it was a good sore, I liked it. The other challenge I did was a stretching challenge. Both are somewhat similar, but the stretching challenge is great for people who have mobility issues, knee problems, hip problems, bursitis, arthritis, etc. Stretching can be so beneficial. These two challenges were different, but both so good.


The goal of these challenges was to increase flexibility. Part of day one of that challenge was for us to sit flat on the floor, legs straight out, and reach down to try and touch our toes. That was our goal. We had to make a mental note about how close we could get to our toes. All of the exercises throughout that 10 days were designed to loosen up the hips, the hip flexors, the hamstrings, the back, arms, and shoulders. At the end of 10 days, let me tell you what. I could sure touch my toes a lot easier and even go past my toes a bit. It was awesome. I knew I had made progress because the instructor wisely set me up from the beginning and said, “Here’s your starting point,” and had me see how close I could get to touch my toes and then at the end of 10 days, he had me do the same thing. I was so excited about my progress during the stretching course.


Does that make sense? Do you see what I’m saying? You want to give them a starting point and then tell them where we’re going to end up. Everyone is going to be different throughout the journey, but able to see their progress. Another challenge I love is a 10-minute mindfulness challenge. You could have them do some kind of meditation using an app, like Headspace. There are a lot of them out there. I particularly like Headspace, and it’s free. You can pay extra for the upgraded version if you want to, but patients can get it for free. You just guide them through and give them instruction every day. “Today, I want you to listen to this particular 10-minute meditation on Headspace, and then let me know how it went.”


It’s just getting the patients to get into that framework of thinking about meditating and calming themselves and being a little more Zen throughout their day. Another one is a sleep prep challenge. That’s one where you talk to and teach them throughout each day about what they can do at night to prepare for better sleep. Sleep is something so many people struggle with. This challenge would apply to probably every practitioner. You could talk about how to create dusk ahead of time or about getting some blue light-filtering or amber glasses. There are lots of things you could educate them on, such as no water after a certain amount of time, stretching before bed, taking certain nutrients, vitamins, supplements, herbs, etc.


You could also do a self-care challenge. There are hundreds of things you could do in this arena. It might be self-care for their skin, for their spine, or even self-care for their eyes or hair. And remember those three questions you have to ask yourself. “Where are they at? Where do they want to be? And how do you get them there?” If everybody in your practice is struggling with dry hair, then that might be a great challenge for them. If they’re struggling with their dry skin, then that might be a great challenge. If they’re struggling with their sleep, that would be the right kind of challenge. Whatever is appropriate for your patient population.


Another one I like is a 30-day water detox. Now, we know that fat cells, in order for them to leave the body, there has to be enough water to escort them out. A water challenge could be a great one. You do 30 days of eight glasses of water a day or 10 days of eight glasses of water a day, but a water challenge is another idea.


You could also do 20 greens in five days. Give them a list of 20 different greens that they’re going to add to their diet over the course of five days. You can line that out for them and tell them, “These are the four we’re going to eat today and here are their recipes.” And then do another four the next day. Then you can see how that moves them towards a goal of getting more vegetables in their diet and also the goal of detoxifying nicely, internally using those important vegetables.


Another one is a sugar-free challenge. You could do 10 days, no sugar. Everybody needs to sign up for that one, right? For a gratitude challenge, have them purchase a gratitude journal and have them write down every day 10 things that they’re grateful for. If you’ve never done a gratitude challenge, I really encourage you to do that or think about it. It is a tremendous eye-opener when you start thinking about all the things in our first-world lives that we have to be grateful for. We sometimes get so grumpy about things that aren’t right, and COVID this, and 2020 this, when really, we have so much to be thankful for. So, that might be a good one.


And then, the last idea that I’ll give you is you can do a supplement, like turmeric. The fenugreek-bound curcuminoids and the Turmeric Forte for Mediherb, you could do turmeric every day for 10 days to get them in a habit of taking supplements. You could also use an adaptogen or some kind of mineral. Something that you know your patients would really resonate with. Don’t make it too specific because you’re going to exclude people. The goal is to get as many people in as we possibly can.


To wrap up and finish this conversation off, I want to talk about the two big questions that are still left; Do you charge or do you do it for free? There are two ways to think about this. If you have hard costs involved, then obviously you need to charge enough to cover your hard costs. So, if there’s a supplement involved or an app you’re going to give them access to, or if you’re going to go for a walk and have to pay fees to get in somewhere, those would be charges that you would want to have recovered as part of your challenge.


But initially, if you’re just trying to get your patients from point A to point B, my recommendation is to start with a free challenge. It makes it less complicated and you’ll have more participants. The flip side of doing a free challenge is that often when it’s free, you’ll have tire kickers, people who just want to come in, check it out and then decide that if it isn’t for them, they’ll opt-out after a few days. If they have to put their own money down, even just $10, they’re more likely to be invested in the outcome and be involved in the process.


So for your first challenge, I would recommend that you keep it simple, don’t charge anything, and think about doing it the next time because you’re going to learn a lot during your first challenge. Don’t try to get it perfect. It’s okay, it’s your first time. No one is ever perfect at riding a bike, like the first time you wobble that thing down the street with your parents close behind, right? You’re always going to be wobbly at first and it’s completely okay. It’s better to get it going than to not do it at all. So, just jump in with both feet, my friend, and let’s get this going.


Now, the next and last thing I want to talk to you about is how to deliver the challenge. You can do it as a video or pre-recorded video that you send out via email. So, maybe every day of your challenge, send out an email with a video link. The video link can be on Loom. Loom is a free video recording software. You can set up what we call a pop-up group inside of Facebook or MeWe or wherever you want to hang out. You could set up that pop-up group and then every day, post a live video in that group.


If writing is your thing, you could do it as a blog post. You could just write it out and send them the link for that particular blog post. If you are like me, I love doing podcasts. You could make an audio file where you talk about it and then send out a few resources, like a chart, graph, something to track their progress, or a little chart where they can check off how many glasses of water they drink every day or their vegetable intake for the day. You may need to create a few resources, but don’t overthink it, it doesn’t have to look like it came from a professional person. You can use Canva to create some of these resources. You could even do interviews.


I once participated in a business-related challenge where every day, they were doing an interview with someone about building email lists. And so, every day, a different interview was done with someone in that field. It was great. Each of those speakers gave us little to-do items and we did them. Then, we came back the next day for our next set of marching instructions. It was a great challenge, I loved it.


And then, finally, you could just do it as a webinar which is similar to doing a live video, but you could use something like Zoom. You could invite everyone to come in and just hang out with you on Zoom and ask questions. It builds community and it builds relationships, but at the end of the day, what we’re really trying to accomplish for you is to have your name and brand become established in your community as being an authorized person who can provide direction and advice for your patients.


My friends, that was a lot of information. I hope it was helpful for you. Again, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. This might be a podcast you’ll want to listen to again and again. And, of course, please feel free to share it with other practitioners that you know. I would love to have you get the word out about The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast because I really am here to serve you. I’m trying to help you grow your business to a thriving, profitable practice that you can be super proud of, that allows you to live the life that you, my friend, deserve. So, take care. I will be back next week with more on The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast.




Alright, my friend. Are you ready to host a challenge for your patients that will get them a quick win and help them overcome some kind of challenge or obstacle they’ve been struggling with? Well, if so, you’re in the right place. All you have to do is go to That’s 24, to grab the free resource that lists out some of my favorite ideas for running a challenge. And as you read through them, don’t get overwhelmed. Just circle the ones that jump out at you. Don’t judge it, just circle them, and once you’ve read through them all go back and decide which one would be the best one for your patient population.


And, as an extra bonus, I threw in the five steps that you need to take in order to get your challenge off the ground. So you don’t have to be overwhelmed with how to I wrote it all out for you. So what are you waiting for? Let’s do this thing! Challenges are so much fun and patients love them. So if you get started though, and you realize you need a little more help or you have a question, just reach out I’m always here to help. Just go to and I will get back to you as quick as I can. Have an awesome week, my friend. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye for now.




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