Featured Articles                                                   August 2009, Vol. II, No. 4
Partnership Yields State-of-the-Art Online Health Platform

StayWell Custom Communications has introduced the StayWell Engage™ program, an online health management platform designed to engage consumers with customized content, health assessment tools and digital health coaching programs that create a personal health improvement experience for consumers. The new health management platform hopes to deliver a win-win for health payors and their populations, providing healthier lifestyles for consumers and proven outcomes that result in lower costs for health plans and employers. The process starts with an HRA that gathers information about the member, which can be used to shape custom-tailored, digital health coaching programs. These include programs designed to address nutrition, weight management, chronic illness, depression, insomnia, binge eating, stress management, diabetes, back care, smoking cessation, physical activity and chronic pain. The StayWell Engage program's technical platform weaves together in a tailored dashboard personalized, health content with online behavior-change programs; engaging, relevant health information; online health intervention programs scientifically designed to motivate behavior change; health coaching sessions emulated in a scalable way; reports documenting participation and behavior change; and personal health records that enable individuals to compile and maintain their personal health information in a secure, central location.

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Quotable: Achieving Change

"We know that behavioral, lifestyle change coaching programs work. The challenge we have is to get people motivated to participate in these programs so that they can achieve as well as sustain the needed behavioral change.”
                                        — David Sensibaugh, director of Integrated Health at Eastman Chemical Company

Get more information on employee health promotion strategies.

Coaching to Improve Medication Persistence

To help members avoid or better manage heart disease and diabetes, the Independence Blue Cross (IBC) ConnectionsSM Health Management Program now includes a Medication Persistence program. This program targets members who are not consistently taking certain prescribed medications for coronary heart disease, heart failure, diabetes and hypertension. Health coaches will work with these members to discover any barriers they may be facing that keep them from taking the proper medication at the proper dosage on a regular basis. A recent member satisfaction survey showed that 88 percent of IBC members with a chronic condition, and 95 percent of non-chronic members, report being "Very satisfied" or "Satisfied" with their health coach experience, and 90 percent said they would recommend their health plan to family and friends. IBC's health management program is designed to help members become better informed healthcare consumers. Through the program, members with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung problems or heart conditions can learn how to improve their health and overall quality of life. The program supports members who are facing a significant medical decision, as well as members who have everyday health concerns, by providing 24-hour access to health coaches.

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Calculating the Health Coaching ROI: Models and Results
According to Paul Terry, Ph.D., president and CEO of StayWell Health Management, when evaluating health coaching and population health programs, it is rare to see an ROI in a program's first year, but generally by the second and third years, ROI begins to build. In addition to discussing ROI trends, Terry evaluates the value of self-reported data and the impact health coaching can have on an organization's productivity, presenteeism and absenteeism, and also gives some benchmarks for ROI in health coaching.

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Maintaining a Long-Term Coaching Relationship

Question: Coaching is a continual process. How can health coaches be more effective and have continuous engagement with their members so that they see the importance of health improvement over time?

Response: There are a couple of different levels where I emphasize, “First, do no harm.” You have to establish that rapport and not raise resistance. It sounds like they’re doing a great job of that in terms of being able to connect with the person in a vulnerable state. They’re establishing the rapport and they are able to get the person’s attention. But there is another important variable here, and this is where we truly go into the art and science of the behavior change. We have to help the person move through the stages of change, not only feeling supported but being able to do things. For example, look at their self-efficacy, look at their ambivalence. Be able to elicit change talk. That is where I would encourage him or her to try to go one level further in terms of the sophistication of their health coaching. Also, look at the type of health coaching that is going to encourage a shift in the behavior change process. Once the rapport and the support is there then they can move further, because the individual is going to be engaged in the process beyond that point of feeling susceptible.

(Susan Butterworth, Ph.D., director of health management services at Oregon Health & Science University.)

Get more information on models, methods, measurements and motivation for health coaching.

HCH Readers Save 10% on HIN's Latest Coaching Resource

Any discussion of health improvement programs eventually gets around to one key point: Where's the ROI? And while the measurement of improvements in clinical outcomes is fairly straightforward, quantifying the impact of health and behavior change on healthcare utilization and medical costs is still a major challenge. However, by relying on a combination of science and program evaluation methods, health improvement companies are getting closer to quantifying these results. Strategies for improving and measuring the clinical and economic effects of health coaching, disease management and other population health management efforts are detailed in "Real ROI from Health Management: Cost Savings through Coaching and Disease Management," a new special report from the HIN.

HealthCoach Huddle subscribers can use ordering code HCH to purchase this resource at a special price!

Get more information on health coaching benchmarks.

Smoking Cessation and Prevention Programs

By funding an expansion of healthcare coverage for children with a 61-cent tobacco tax per cigarette pack, the U.S. government is doing their part in the crusade for tobacco cessation and prevention. Now, HIN examines how over 220 wellness companies, behavioral healthcare providers, PCPs, disease management organizations, employers, health plans and hospital/health systems are contributing to the area of tobacco cessation and prevention.

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