E-Book Excerpt: Tracking Patient Progress and Results


One of the most significant components of successful behavior change is accountability. Providers can ensure a patient has consistent access to motivation and support by crafting a follow-up protocol as part of their overall action plan.

Traditionally, follow-up plans are given to a patient after treatment ends. A follow-up care plan may include schedules for physical exams or tests, as well as referrals and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. In this context, the provider and patient worked together to cultivate realistic goals and a comprehensive plan of action, so the follow-up plan will center on regular check-ins to ensure the patient’s ongoing success. As the patient progresses, the provider may make additional recommendations or work with the patient to change their action plan.

To start, based on the patient’s goals, determine how often you will need to meet with the patient. For many practitioners, follow-ups may include a combination of in-person meetings, phone conversations, and other Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) -compliant digital communication platforms.

Ensure the patient has all the information they need to get started. Offer them a written copy of their values and vision and any documents detailing their goals and action steps. It can be helpful to digitally format and print this like a traditional medical record. Include specific timelines for each step as part of the goal setting process. Make sure the patient knows where to turn should they have questions or need additional support.

Ongoing Support

While traditional sources of support may include family, friends, colleagues, and community members, support can include both internal and external resources. To start, have the patient identify a handful of close relationships, people they can turn to immediately when they need support or motivation. This could include an accountability partner if the patient selected one. In some cases, it may be appropriate to recommend STEP 4 It may be helpful to create a “where to turn” guide if the patient isn’t sure what kind of support they need at different times.” national helplines or online resources that have uninterrupted access.

From there, identify sources of support that a patient can utilize individually. Patients may not always have access to external support, so learning to find support in fulfilling activities can make a difference in a patient’s overall health. Some supportive activities include:

  • Pursuing a hobby, like dancing or playing an instrument
  • Getting out in nature 
  • Starting a mindfulness practice 
  • Making art, like drawing or writing
  • Joining a community, religious, or spiritual group

Determine with the patient scenarios where internal support versus external support is most appropriate. It may be helpful to create a “where to turn” guide if the patient isn’t sure what kind of support they need at different times. Regardless, the patient should feel that they have a community behind them, but ultimately understand that they are responsible for and capable of creating the life they want to live.

Celebrate Success

The provider guides the patient in goal setting and action steps, as well as tracking their progress and results. The provider can help the patient select realistic action steps that can easily lead to small successes in a short amount of time. Motivation and confidence increase as the patient experiences positive changes and their mindset shifts.

Celebrate successes with the patient. Recount times when they had difficulty adhering to their plan and review how they overcame those difficulties and what they learned about themselves in the process. This will give them a reference point when they are overcoming similar obstacles in the future.

Some coaching questions in the results step might be:

  1. How can you appreciate your progress? 
  2. How would you describe the benefits of your experience? 
  3. What’s been good about this experience? 
  4. How have you grown?

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from the e-book, A Six-Step Approach to Health and Wellness Coaching: A Toolkit for Practice Implementation. To access the full text, click here