When a financial advisory team from Long Beach, California-based Halbert Halgrove heard Jeff Belkora speak at a conference in 2013 about SLCT, the interview protocol he designed to stimulate patient disclosure in health care practices, they knew they had found something of great importance to them.
Halbert Hargrove has always made an effort to focus on its clients’ thoughts, feelings, needs and goals, said Kelli Kiemle, director of marketing and client experience for Halbert Hargrove. Belkora’s methodical approach has been proven to increase patient introspection and satisfaction and decrease anxiety, distress and regret. In a financial planning setting, it offered the team the perfect template to elicit clients’ goals and needs, and understand their thought processes prior to addressing them – something she said is not that easy to do.
SLCT, pronounced “select,” stands for Scribing (writing down what a client said is at the top of their mind); Laddering (asking clients to elaborate on their top-of-mind concerns); Checking (administering a prompt sheet to stimulate additional client disclosure of goals, concerns, interests, priorities and questions); and Triaging (creating a succinct document, edited for clarity and brevity, that summarizes the client agenda).
Belkora is associate professor of surgery and health policy at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), and obtained a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford. He came up with the SLCT method after realizing that doctors needed a new model for patient engagement — one that enabled people to critically reflect on their condition before meeting with their medical providers.
“Most patients, when they go into a meeting with a doctor, surgeon or oncologist, tend to freeze up,” Belkora said.
That inhibition means important questions, concerns and needs aren’t addressed because they’re not in the patient’s mind at the time.
“To have a pre-consultation interview that allows people to critically reflect on their condition before they go into a meeting with a doctor — a meeting where they are going to make life-changing decisions — is very important,” Belkora said.
UCSF uses the SLCT method as a key part of first-stage tools designed for patient discovery. It is a natural fit for the financial planning industry, which after the 2008 financial crisis has become much more attuned to client needs, and is very much focused on investor behavior, thought and feeling as key to determine the best investment options for them.
“There is a real parallel between financial planning and health care, right down to the dynamics between the advisor and client, which are the same as between doctor and patient,” Belkora said. “In both fields, we have the same issues, the same barriers.”