Areas like diabetes management are not just the domain of physicians or case managers; today, health coaches often provide patients with diabetes the necessary tools and resources to manage it, says Alicia Vail, RN, a health coach at Ochsner Health System. Here she explains how the role of the health coach has evolved over the years, and is now involved in everything from emergency department (ED) follow-ups to NCQA certification for patient-centered medical homes.
The health coaches are utilized within the clinic as a resource to help patients become self-activated, engaged and motivated to take an active role in managing their health. Health coaches also provide patients with the necessary tools, skills and resources to help them achieve their own self-identified goals.
There are several roles health coaches are involved in. We offer health coach consults, where we utilize core skills such as active listening and motivational interviewing, which empowers the patient and supports self-management. The health coaches have also taken a lead role in coordinating our diabetes boot camp and smoking cessation programs, where we utilize motivational interviewing skills and techniques as well.
Some of our health coaches are involved with NCQA or Joint Commission recognition toward the patient-centered medical home (PCMH). And our health coaches have been involved with the introduction of shared medical appointments. Sometimes we’re utilized as their urgent resource for glucometer or insulin teaching for our diabetic population.
Some interventions that we use with health coaching include inviting the patient to participate, listening reflectively, providing support, encouragement and validation. We respect and maintain patient self-direction, and explore pros and cons of change. We also assess the stage of change and use the Readiness Ruler to determine how important and confident the patient is in making these changes.
Evidence-Based Health Coaching: Patient-Centered Competencies for Population Health presents a template for evidence-based coaching that emphasizes clinical competencies, along with real-life applications from a health system already utilizing clinical health coaches within its value-based healthcare network.