Prevent Burnout with a Hybrid Practice Approach.
re you the kind of practitioner that loves to support clients all the time, even if it means you risk burning out? What if I told you there is a better way to get great results without burnout!
Today’s episode welcomes practitioner mentor Hayley Stathis, who is chatting to us about how we can help multiple clients at once using a hybrid practice approach.
I’m Hayley, Online Business & Marketing Coach for Health & Wellness Practitioners
I help you package up your expertise into a brand and online business you love, easily attracting an abundance of clients (without burning out!)
Trust me, I know all about burnout from my previous 14-year Marketing career (that saw me drag my adrenals back to study Nutrition & Naturopathic Medicine!)
When I opened my own Clinic, I became obsessed with systems to work smarter, not harder and I created & launched online courses, group coaching programs & high-value transformations for my clients.
Now, I coach other savvy practitioners to have what I have 😉
Connect with Hayley:
References and Resources
Andrew: This is “Wellness by Designs” and I’m your host, Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us today is Hayley Stathis. And we’re going to be discussing developing a hybrid practice. Welcome to “Wellness by Designs,” Haley, how are you?
Hayley: I’m well. Thank you, Andrew. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: My pleasure. Our pleasure. Hayley, first, can you tell us a little bit about your history? You started off in a marketing background, didn’t you? Something like that, but what drew you to naturopathy?
Hayley: Yeah. So I began my career, I went to uni and studied communications and worked in marketing, public relations, events in Sydney and London and had a great time, but became very burnt out in my 20s. So I guess it’s not an uncommon story where you knew you’d work in the corporate area, have a great time, but really that type of working environment starts to take its toll. And I guess I’d always been interested in nutrition. I was the one making the healthy salads in the, you know, staff kitchen and teaching everyone about, including proteins in their lunch for energy and that type of thing. And I guess, I really wanted to become part of the solution rather than the problem. I could see my colleagues around me stressed out, burning the candle at both ends and, you know, starting to develop… One girl who sat next to me was getting these migraines and told me that she was popping Nurofen Plus, so Ibuprofen and codeine pills just to take the edge off through the day. And I remember being horrified internally and thinking, “there’s gotta be something better for this person to deal with this stress.” And then that led me then to reading the outline of the subjects and really deciding that I was gonna take that next step.
Andrew: So it was an active thing. Most people or many people, they have a health problem for which the medical model will fail them and then they search nature medicine, but you’re an active searcher. So that’s really interesting. You’re one of these, I mean, I’ve never done a true sample size, but quite a rare sort of find. I call them the 5%.
Hayley: Oh, I’m a rare find.
Andrew: Yeah. So just a little bit about the marketing thing, did your colleagues in marketing who weren’t natural medicine or more natural food aligned, did they sort of look at you and shake your head as the weird hippie?
Hayley: Well, no. I mean, I did grow up in Bangalow in Byron Bay. So the hippie title is not something new to me. I’m quite happy to embrace that. No, they were all very, very interested. I worked on a PR marketing typically quite heavy, you know, quite heavy sort of female workforce. So they were all women in, you know, mid-20s through to probably mid to late 40s at the time. So, I mean, that’s a demographic that loves natural medicine. So yeah, I had a very receptive audience at the time.
Andrew: Gotcha. I didn’t know that you came from Bangalow, Byron Bay. Bangalow, just so that you, for our viewers and our listeners, it’s basically, I’m not religious, but it’s God’s country. It’s absolutely spectacular country up there. It’s awesome. So, Hayley, let’s talk about the hybrid practice. What exactly are we talking about here?
Hayley: So a hybrid practice for me, and I think, I mean, I teach programs. So a hybrid program is where we’re combining one on one consultations and testing and treatment plans with elements of online curriculum, so video lessons, handouts, resources for patients, with group coaching sessions, and then perhaps some sense of a community platform, either a Facebook group or another sort of area where people can all interact, patients can interact. So it’s packaging up your expertise and delivering your knowledge to a patient in a way that goes beyond that traditional across from the table in the clinical practice face to face.
Andrew: Okay. So many practitioners have had to pivot with COVID into developing an online practice. Have you been doing this for quite some time prior to COVID-19?
Hayley: Yes. So in my own clinical practice, the sort of last three years of my practice, I ended up closing November last year and moving straight into sort of marketing, coaching other practitioners, but the last three years of my practice I was operating in a hybrid model, in some sense. And the last sort of 18, two years to 18 months, was completely hybrid. So I wasn’t doing anything other than my hybrid programs with my patients. Definitely, though, you know, the past 18 months have been in a pandemic. A lot of practitioners were sort of forced into at least telehealth appointments, which has really opened up that world of, what else could I offer online? How else could I support my patients beyond just me in front of them and in that half an hour consultation?
Andrew: Yeah. But what you’re talking about isn’t just a consultation, you’re talking about programs. So there’s a lot more than you have to prepare, and give, and interact with, with a patient population because you’re also talking about groups as well. So that’s a really interesting take on things.
Hayley: Yeah, it is. I guess, for me personally in my own practice, I was looking at ways to leverage my time more. I didn’t want to work more than three, four days in practice, I had even younger children back then and I wanted to find a way to sort of not burn out myself. I mean, I left marketing 10 years prior to not burnout. And what I found was, “Oh, here I am in another profession burning out.” So for me personally, I really needed to find a better way of working.
I had a Hashimoto’s diagnosis around the same time. So even though perhaps at the beginning of my naturopathy career, I didn’t have a health story myself one certainly eventuated. So I needed to look after myself. And I also realized that patients were wanting more. I was looking at other practitioners, particularly health coaches, and they were running programs. And I trained in health coaching, I needed to improve my coaching skills. That was a gap in my skill set. And I looked at the way they were offering their services, and they were getting clients to sign up for 12-week programs at a minimum. And that just really made sense to me.
So in my own practice, I really looked at one, niching. So specializing, I guess, is probably the term that we would use more so so that I was working with a particular type of client, a particular type of condition so that I could really hone all of the resources I created to serve that client with the particular problem, or symptoms that they had. So that streamlined things a lot more. And it allowed me then to package up video lessons, resources, handouts because it was quite specific to that client and what they needed.
Andrew: Okay. I have to cover this first, but then I want to go back into the subject matter because it’s really interesting. So but from a first perspective, privacy issues versus social issues, because you’re talking about one-on-ones and then group sessions. So how do you manage that privacy issue, is it like a consent form almost or how do you do that?
Hayley: Yeah. Look, it’s a really common question that practitioners ask me, and a lot of the time when they hear me talking about group programs and group coaching calls when you’ve got more than one client in front of you at a time, they do freak out. But what I found and what I say to them is, look, you get to build into your hybrid program as much one on one as you need. Some types of clients and conditions are going to need more others won’t need as many, but you can build in those one-on-one consults so that any matter that is private that a client potentially doesn’t want to share in a group environment, they have an avenue to reach you directly privately, even offering an email situation.
The other thing when it comes to the group calls, so yes, you need to establish a culture within those calls and a set of rules that this is private and it doesn’t go beyond the group. But you’re not gonna be bringing up private matters in that group, you know, you need to let the patients in front of you lead. A great example of that is, you know, you’re not gonna say on the call, “Hey, Sally, how’s your constipation going?” You know, but if Sally voluntarily says, “Look, I’m feeling a little bit constipated. What could I do?” Sally’s clearly given you permission to speak about that in front of other people.
And the thing, Andrew, that I found and all of the practitioners who I coach in this model find as well is, once you’ve got a group of people who are like-minded, they’re suffering from the same types of health challenges and they’re all really on this journey together, they really develop a sense of safety, community. They almost become a tribe. And they become quite open to sharing because they know that they’re in a safe space. And the other thing as well is that they will happily give each other advice on these coaching calls. So sometimes you just get to sit back while they support each other, which is really, I mean, that’s the magic. That’s the therapy, isn’t it? When you can sort of step back and they can help one another.
Andrew: You know, it’s really interesting what you’re saying because in my mind is going on, there’s the traditional old model that’s been shown to be successful at least partly for horrible conditions, like alcoholics and substance abusers. And the group sessions have been invaluable, Alcoholics Anonymous, was built on this. But then we’ve also found that weight management requires the group or…forgive me, it’s not necessarily the group, but it’s checking in regularly with somebody. And that’s the only way in which you will get a sustained weight loss or weight management. This is very interesting what you’re talking about, about having the patients lead it though. That’s like, how do you control? How do you direct the conversation in there so that you definitely get some benefit and it doesn’t just turn into a chinwag?
Hayley: Yeah. Look, there are certainly some skills that practitioners need to learn to facilitate group coaching sessions. It’s something that, you know, one of the things I certainly teach them. But it’s a learned skill. It’s something that they can definitely learn. I think to you as the practitioner in a group coaching setting, you are the facilitator. So you are still leading the call and I’ve been fortunate when I was practising in this way that I, you know, you screen your clients, you mostly find people that are going to be a good fit for that group coaching environment. But sometimes you can have people that might want to take over or ask lots of questions or interject and you’ve just got to manage that.
I think, where the support comes in from the other members of the group, that can sometimes happen. So for example, I run sessions on a Zoom call. They can be typing away in the chat. So while you might be answering a question that a particular patient has asked, the other two are supporting each other over in the chat on whatever topic it was that they were speaking about. So it’s fluid. You need to still be in the leadership-facilitator role. But it’s funny, you said the
word control, and I think sometimes as practitioners we are quite nervous about letting go of some of that control. But that’s part of facilitating a group is you just gotta be confident and comfortable enough to just see where it goes, rein it back in if you need to, but just trust that your patients really are getting something amazing out of that group session that you couldn’t possibly deliver one on one.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, it’s people who know in, you know, intrinsically about the condition because they’re suffering from it. And so there’s these commonalities that certainly from a practitioner who might not have Hashimoto’s has no real experience in what it feels like to get to undergo those, you know, those symptoms. Can I ask, with regards to when you sell a program, do you sell it as one group and they all join at the same time, and they all follow the same timeline, and continue as their own, as you said, a tribe? What happens when a new patient comes in? Like, do they have a catch-up period or how does that work?
Hayley: You can do it both ways. And I have done a group where if there was a set start date and everyone was at the same point for the whole program. What I moved into and what I encourage practitioners to do as well is it’s called an evergreen model. So you know, it’s open for enrollment all the time. So what will happen is you have an onboarding process with every new patient, so you would still do an initial consultation with them one on one, you would still organize appropriate testing, you’d still come up with your prescription, your treatment recommendations, whatever that may be, and deliver that to them. And then you can offer them extra support on either weekly, fortnightly, monthly, whatever you feel is best group coaching calls. So that yes, they are coming into those calls, then there are people further ahead of them. And eventually, there’ll be people coming in behind them.
What I found though is, that’s where the magic is because it’s really motivating for a new person to come into a group and to be listening into the outcomes, the results, the success that people just a few months ahead of them are having. That is so motivating. You can’t fabricate that. If I was just with the patient saying, “Yeah, sure you’ll get it, by month two, you’ll be feeling this.” They’re at the beginning thinking, “No, I won’t. I can’t do this.” But if they’re hearing from just a regular person like them, they’re incredibly motivated. And that’s a really great way to keep that client in action.
Andrew: That’s brilliant, thank you. That’s actually really good. That’s a great point. Can I ask you, you mentioned Hashimoto’s, which to me is, I guess, they’d be a support sort of thing. But what sort of conditions do you, or are best suited if you like, to a hybrid’s approach? I was mentioning alcoholism and drug dependency, that’s more suited to a psychologist, I get it. With naturopaths or naturo-therapists, tell us which conditions are best suited to a hybrid approach?
Hayley: So, let me think of the clients I’ve currently got or have had through my program, and really I would argue, I don’t think there’s any condition or any type of patient that you couldn’t build this type of program for. So obviously, you mentioned weight loss. That was my niche, hormonal weight loss, and would mean that perimenopausal woman. So definitely weight loss, definitely perimenopause, menopause, PCOS, any of those hormonal conditions. Fertility is a great one, IBS is another, any gut health type conditions, I’ve got a client developing a SIBO hybrid program at the moment, you know, people with food intolerances, they feel so alone at barbecues, and if they’re in a room in a group program and there’s other people that have this long list of, like, they feel like they’ve found their people. So her program is going to be really successful. A client who is doing a program for oncology patients as well. So, you know, even cancer, which is sometimes something, you know, an area that many practitioners would feel would not possibly work in a group environment. She’s making some modifications to the program but, you know, it will work too.
Andrew: Yeah. I think the cancer patients really need support and talk about somebody who, like how do you understand the chronic hypervigilance that a cancer patient has to go through? How can you do that unless you’ve suffered cancer yourself, and your mortality is in front of you every second of the day? I think it would be a perfect thing suited for, as you’re saying, a hybrid approach. Can I ask, you were mentioning niching and specialties, what about general stuff, is that only suited to specialties?
Hayley: I think if you’re wanting to create a program per se, then I would argue that yes, you do need to have a very clear niche and a very clear problem that that program itself is solving, and if you want those group sessions, then yeah, they do need to have a commonality to really function well like that common goal. However, the hybrid model can still work in general practice. So I have some clients who while with me, while they’re developing their signature program and their hybrid program, they are using the hybrid model in their practice just by including some online lessons that will go through the basics.
A lot of practitioners, we find that we’re repeating ourselves with just things like, what are protein foods and how much water should I drink? And how many hours sleep should I get? All those sort of pillars of health. You can record videos and have handouts and almost have a virtual onboarding process for your patients coming into the practice. Because regardless of the condition, there would still be similar common types of messages that we need to get across to our patients. Even, you know, how to book your next appointment, or how to change an appointment or just that general welcome to our practice, here’s how we operate. A lot of that can be delivered virtually in a mini onboarding program.
Andrew: Right. And, of course, what about outcomes? Now you were mentioning earlier, and I thought it was so telling that you’ve got the patients talking about their successes, offering encouragement for the newbies of the program. So I guess that speaks volumes, but we’ve got to talk about outcomes because denigrators of natural medicine will say, it’s all placebo, it doesn’t work. Nothing could be further from the truth. But we’ve gotta talk about outcomes. So do you blend these hybrid sessions with one on ones where you talk about the successes and, you know, you do your documentation, obviously, of objective outcomes?
Hayley: Absolutely. So I believe and I teach my clients, look, let’s not put another course out there that someone can purchase online and have no support, no one-on-one access to the practitioner, and they’re left to their own devices. We know that that type of online program doesn’t really work as far as outcomes go. But because they’ve got you the practitioner, that you are checking in with them one on one, and having those consultations throughout the course of your time together. And all the other bits and pieces is just added bonuses. They’re designed really to enhance the transformation. I really found and the feedback I had from my own clients when I worked in this way was they felt they got more of me than if they just had, you know, three one-on-one sessions over eight weeks. And they said that, you know, the accountability, I think was the biggest thing. They could turn on the video, watch my little video, do the handout, do whatever, you know, exercise or action step I’d set for them. They’d have emails popping into their inbox every week from me. They’d have the group coaching calls, they’d have their upcoming one-on-one sessions. So it was almost like I was living in their back pocket. So there was no hiding.
Andrew: Gotcha. Okay. So the question there is, how do you know that a patient needs to see you? Do you just, you know, tell them at the beginning, look, this is available whenever you need to sort of come out of the group and see me personally? Or are there set times that you try and, you know, organize so that you’re leveraging your time at the best way possible? How does that manage?
Hayley: What I think works best is a bit of both. So you have your set consultation times. So you would ideally schedule those, I mean, obviously the initial consultation, and then the delivery of the treatment plan and personalized recommendations. And then again, depending on who the patient is and what the condition is, will help guide you looking and what practitioners can do is look back, well, how often did I see that type of client in my clinic anyway? Well, let’s emulate that with this is where I will schedule these one-on-one consultations. So they are locked in, obviously, with flexibility as needs be.
Then what I always encourage my practitioner clients to do is buffer enough in your margin so that if that emergency situation came up where they just needed a quick phone call with you, and sometimes that’s all it takes, Andrew, it doesn’t need to be a half-hour, complete follow-up. Sometimes just a quick five-minute chat on the phone, “Hey, this has popped up, what should I do? Can I tweak my prescription?” Your patient feels really chuffed because they are like, “Oh, she’s offered me this like free session, how wonderful.” You don’t feel resentful because you’ve costed that in, and you’re more than willing to offer that. And then that way that takes away that sort of fear of what if they need me and, you know, their appointment’s two weeks away. So I think that’s sort of the best approach that I’ve found.
Andrew: Gotcha. And then, of course, you’ve got the horrible situation of being in the, do you become so expert and so successful at doing these programs that again, the time thing creeps in, how do you manage your time?
Hayley: It’s a good problem to have. And you can hire virtual assistants to take over the admin. You could get, and this is what in my business coaching at the moment, I’m getting other coaches in to take over some of those calls. So I have clients and naturopathic nutritionist clients who are building in meditation coaches. They’re getting them to come in and do a session with their clients, or they might be getting a yoga teacher in once a month to run a special yoga class for their particular type of clients. So you can start to outsource and you can hire other staff to come in and run some sessions too. So yeah, I wouldn’t get too far ahead of yourself and worry about that yet. There’s always a way to figure that out. But it’s certainly a much more leveraged way to work by having that hybrid model.
Andrew: Gotcha. Now you mentor other naturopaths in how to build a hybrid program, correct?
Andrew: Okay. So do you teach them the practicalities of things like pricing, costing? You’re talking about, you know, costing in a little bit more margin for those emergency calls. Do you teach them about how to effectively cost out a program?
Hayley: Absolutely. We have a whole module and a whole series of lessons that’s dedicated to that. So before we get to that step in the program, in the process, there’s a lot of mindset work because when a practitioner is going from the mindset of I only have to sell, and I know that’s a word that a lot of practitioners cringe at. But hey, we are in sales. If you’re in business, sales is a big part of your business. So again, it’s a learned skill. But it’s a big mindset shift sometimes to go from the $150 one-off consultation to then trying to sell in a $1,500 to $3,000 program. So practitioners need to work on their mindset around, I guess, I focus on helping them see the value and realizing that their offering transformation. That’s, you know, pricing based on the outcome that they’re helping the client move towards. But yes, looking at margins and all that sort of minute details of pricing is definitely part of the program.
Andrew: Yeah. But I love what you’re saying about mindset changing. This is something that Tammy gets worked on a lot. And so I’m so glad to hear you say that it’s actually part of the program to help people overcome their fears and their preconceived ideas about value and things like that. This is really good stuff. Where can people find out more?
Hayley: So the best place to connect with me, I probably live there a little too much is my Instagram, which is just @HayleyStathis. And the next best place is my free group on Facebook, and it’s called Prosperous Practitioner, lots of weekly trainings in there. It’s a growing tribe. And we talk a lot about the hybrid model and virtual practice marketing, all of that good stuff.
Andrew: Hayley, this is wonderful work you’re doing because you’ve done the work for you, you’ve done the, you know, the work with the patients and things like that. Now you’re actually helping your community, your tribe to become prosperous in their own right. So, well done you. And thank you so much for taking us through the hybrid practice today on “Wellness by Designs.”
Hayley: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: And everybody, thank you for your company today. We will definitely be putting up a lot of these groups that Hayley can invite you into and how you can get in touch with her as well on Instagram, up on the Designs for Health website. And of course, you can find all of the other podcasts up there as well. Thanks so much for joining us today. I’m Andrew Whitfield-Cook, and this is “Wellness by Designs.”