HealthFitness Refines Population Health via Engagement, Tools and Technology

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
This post was written by Jessica Fornarotto

Integrated health coaching continues to move the needle on population health management with interventions that keep the healthy, healthy without compromising the clinical support needed for high-risk, high utilization individuals. Dr. Dennis Richling, chief medical and wellness officer for HealthFitness, and Kelly Merriman, vice president of service delivery for HealthFitness, believe coaching offers a great opportunity to change the health status of a population.

In HIN’s special report, Integrated Health Coaching: Reducing Risk and Empowering Change across the Health Continuum, these industry experts detail HealthFitness’ move toward integrated health coaching, including the rules of participant engagement, the role of technology, and the range of self-management tools provided for participants.

Question: What strategies reach the population and increase engagement in health and wellness coaching?

Response: (Dr. Richling) One of the key strategies has been the use of an incentive that draws people toward the program. Incentives are fairly effective in getting people to do certain kinds of activities. If we provide an incentive for taking a health assessment, for instance, then we can engage them in a health advising session. We can take that external incentive and try to leverage it into an intrinsic motivation to go into our health coaching program. We see a better engagement rate when we offer an HRA, and when we provide screenings and advisement.

(Kelly Merriman) Engagement is also how long participants are choosing to engage with their coach. One of the main reasons we created our EMPOWERED Coaching program, or coaching across the continuum, is to more appropriately assign those individuals who have a chronic condition that is being well managed with somebody specially trained in lifestyle engagement techniques. Individuals working with our advanced practice coaches are much more likely to remain engaged with their coach because they’re focusing on those things that are most important to them.

Question: What is the role of technology in the various levels of health and lifestyle coaching?

Response: (Dr. Richling) We have developed a sophisticated algorithm that uses claims data and HRA data to decide which coach would be the best coach for the participant. The algorithm evaluates whether the individual has the appropriateness of care compared to chronic care guidelines, whether they are compliant to those guidelines, if they are having trouble with functions of daily living, and it also evaluates the risk for high cost in the future. These all go into identifying which professional coach would be the best fit for an individual. Technology continues to play a role after a person and coach are matched:

  • Assessment of risk is ongoing; HealthFitness’ data and technology platform can reassess a participant’s health status whenever new data becomes available.
  • Health coaches access a unique dashboard of participant-specific information via a proprietary HealthFitness technology platform. The technology populates a record with personal health risk factors, claims data, biometric screening results and previous contact with the coach and other program personnel, as well as complete activity and program information feeds.
  • The platform also displays a 360-degree interactive view of client-specific program options so the coach can reference participants to health management activities and programs from their employer, whether HealthFitness provides the services or not.

Question: What tools do you provide to your coaching participants to help them self-manage their conditions?

Response: (Kelly Merriman) We have a series of educational and self-management tools available for participants via their wellness Web site and/or the mail. For example, a coach can share documents and resources with a participant through a toolbox, which then integrates with the wellness portal. Additionally, participants are able to set up and track their focus area goals of interest. The coaching program has a mobile phone interface that allows users to track their progress remotely and stay in touch with their coach.

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