Featured Articles                                                                                     Oct. 2008, Vol. I, No. 6
Training Health Coaches in Complementary Medicine

Medica Health Plans launched a health and wellness coaching program that provides its members with the personal support they need to set health improvement goals and achieve them. While Medica coaches have backgrounds in health coaching, nursing, psychology, social work, exercise physiology, dietetics/nutrition or health education, Medica has also partnered with the University of Minnesota's (UM) Center for Spirituality and Healing (CSH) to develop an extensive training program for its health and wellness coaches. According to UM's CSH, health coaches "assist those with pathological conditions to enhance their health and change their lifestyle patterns. The ability to perform this function requires that a health coach have a comfortable working knowledge of and vocabulary in both conventional and complementary healthcare. Ideally, they can work preventively with individuals to address optimal life choices and paths prior to the occurrence of any physical or mental pathology."

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Quotable: Variety is the Spice of Coaching

"Our coaches come from various disciplines, including dieticians, health educators, registered nurses and exercise specialists. Their specialization enables them to better assess condition-specific stages of change, identify strengths and perceived barriers and offer personalized goal-setting geared toward participant education and compliance."
                                        — Gregg Lehman, CEO of HealthFitness

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Wellness Conference Focuses on Coaching, Screening and Exercising

What do Vermont and health coaching have in common? The state was the location of a Work Site Wellness Conference held last week, and health coaching was among one of the chief topics on the agenda, along with biometric screening, exercise classes, healthy options in vending machines, park bench yoga and a shared garden — all part of Vermont employer efforts to create a healthy work environment. The conference's goal was to share best practices among employers who have developed strong worksite wellness programs, and encourage the creation of new programs for large and small companies statewide. The conference included a panel discussion and exhibits of best practices in work site wellness, and workshops on strategies and policies for driving healthy behavior changes in the work place. Employers also participated in a stay home when you are sick kit scavenger hunt. "Healthier employees leads to a healthier Vermont and significantly lowers the cost of healthcare," said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, M.D. "The programs are a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved.”

Read full article here.

Using Motivational Interviewing to Elicit Behavior Change

A health coach's use of motivational interviewing (MI) can pave the way to a partnership resulting in an individual's behavior change, explains Kristin S. Vickers Douglas, Ph.D., L.P., a clinical health psychologist at the Mayo Clinic and medical director of its EmbodyHealth coaching program. Frequently called upon to employ MI in her practice as well as train health coaches in the technique, Dr. Vickers Douglas describes the dimensions of MI and its value in determining and reacting to an individual's readiness to change.

Listen to podcast here.

Health Coach Calls: Overcoming a Benefits Entitlement Mentality

Question: Once the decision has been made to implement a health change program, what were the biggest roadblocks you saw, and how did you overcome them?

Response: (David Sensibaugh) The biggest implementation challenge was the entitlement mentality of benefits — that is, people feeling that things are free, and we don’t have to do anything. All of the sudden we’re introducing some expectation. While there’s still choice, some people view that as forcing them to complete an HRA. It is all part of the journey — what can we do to help condition people to earn their trust and to understand what’s important? We show them how healthcare costs were increasing dramatically — how many millions of dollars we’re spending each year — and that was not acceptable for our company. For the survival of our company, we set the business case. That’s most critical, first and foremost. Then we make them understand why HRAs were important. We have people who are very healthy, people who are very sick and everywhere in between. We’re going to provide services, tools and resources throughout that whole continuum, but it’s up to you. You have a responsibility to access and take advantage of those tools and resources.

(David Sensibaugh is director of Integrated Health at Eastman Chemical Company.)

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Telehealth Improves Access to Clinicians, Coaches

A newly released white paper entitled “Telephone Connectivity Supports Medical Home Model and Removes Barriers to Care,” authored by Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.M., articulates the value of telehealth — using the telephone to provide physician or consumer-directed cross coverage 24/7 — as an emerging and effective application in tackling issues related to episodic care as well as chronic care management for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiac disease.

Download complimentary white paper here.

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