As a physician, you know how important it is for your patients to follow your instructions when it comes to carrying out health recommendations on their own — and you also know a lot of folks simply don't do it right.

Whether they ignore your instructions, follow a care plan incorrectly, or lose motivation to keep up with their meds or healthy practices, you have more control than you think when it comes to making your orders clear and keeping your patients motivated.

How? Follow this advice:

Ask for a selfie.

A study from Queensland University of Technology found that patients who are encouraged to take medical selfies post-care and share them with their doctors feel more connected to their doctors and develop a positive sense of autonomy about their health.

For example, say you have a patient who is recovering from a post-surgical wound — you can ask him or her to take photos of the healing process so you can monitor it virtually. That patient will then feel positively and directly involved in his or her care.

Hold a lottery.

This sounds unusual — but it works. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that patients who were given a 1 in 10 chance of winning $50 were more likely to complete an at-home stool blood test. Incentives that your patients see as fresh and fun can increase compliance.

Ask your patients to buy, not rent, a piece of essential medical equipment.

University of Chicago research found that consumers who use a product short-term without actually owning it are indifferent to caring properly for that product in many cases. You don't want your patients being careless with a mobility product they need.

So, ask them to purchase that cane, walker or wheelchair rather than renting or borrowing it. You can stress the fact that they will always have it when they need it this way, and the investment is more likely to make them want to keep their purchase in operational shape.

Let your patients choose the color of their pills.

An intriguing study from the University of Bombay found that patients tend to find that pink pills taste sweeter than red ones; yellow pills taste salty; white or blue pills taste bitter; and orange pills taste sour.

These perceptions are often emotional rather than factual, of course, but letting your patient ask for a specific pill color, if possible, can aid in their perception of liking or not minding its taste. You can also tell them if they must take, say, an orange pill, "You may think this pill will taste sour, but it's no big deal." Subsequently, they probably won't make it a big deal.

Make a surprise phone call.

Set aside a block of time one evening a week to call you patients at home and give them a friendly check-in. Ask them how they're doing when it comes to following their healthcare plan and talk over any issues or problems on the spot so they can do even better.

Your patients won't expect to hear from you directly but the fact that they do will work wonders for two reasons. One, they'll know you take their care seriously, so they will, too. Two, they'll feel you're connecting with them on a human and humane level.