What’s a Health Coach Anyway?
Health coaches are popping up all over the country working with individual clients, doctor’s offices as well as public and private sector wellness departments. Health Coaching encompasses many areas of health, including physical and emotional wellbeing, by focusing on weight loss, stress management, sleep habits and physical activity. They help patients and clients develop new habits and behaviors necessary for long-term success in achieving health goals. They often offer services and fill gaps that physicians, nurses and dietitians don’t have the time or resources to fill.
Why Health Coaching and Weight-Loss?
1) Limited Time and Resources. Western medicine primarily focuses on treating sickness and managing symptoms as opposed to preventing illness and reversing health issues related to weight and lifestyle. Further, most of the problems people go to their doctors for are chronic, involving lifestyle-related questions, and doctors don't have the time or resources to treat them. Helping patients with lifestyle change involves additional training, time and an interest in this approach.
A most important role for Health Coaches may be as the alternative to the brief follow-up appointment that leaves some patients wondering what to do next. “How do I lose weight?” “How do I reduce my dependence on medications?” The traditional treatment is not to ask questions like 'What might have caused this?
2) Exploding Health Care Crisis: Chronic disease is at the center of our health crisis. Preventable illnesses such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are reaching epidemic proportions. More Americans are taking prescription medications today than ever. In fact, nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two, according to Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center researchers.
3) Extra Weight and Obesity Drives Most Health Issues: obesity, which is preventable, is the prime contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and some cancers. It increases women's cancer risk by 40 percent according to new studies from Cancer Research UK. 70 percent of our population is overweight or obese.
Most patients want help.
Even Congress Recognizes the Important Role of Health Coaching
The Health Coaching Profession is so important and visible that a member of Congress, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, has officially recognized and received approval designating January 12-18 as National Health and Wellness Coach Week:
“The United States faces a health crisis due in large part to the prevalence of costly chronic conditions, which are largely brought on by poor lifestyle choices,” Ryan wrote. “Health and Wellness Coaches work with individuals and shift them from being passive recipients of expensive health care interventions to adopting a responsible, self-directed, proactive stance that facilitates lasting positive change. It is vital that Health and Wellness Coaches continue to expand their good work, the nation needs it.”
Create Health for Your Patients and Your Practice with a Built-in Clientele and Effective Way to Get Paid
Small and medium practices are at risk of reduced revenue in coming years. It's a critical issue as reimbursement continues to decline and practices are forced to do more with less. Every practice has a built-in clientele for health coaching and weight-loss services. More than two thirds of US adults are overweight and more than one third are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rather than dealing with insurers, who do not pay well, services for weight-loss and coaching are paid directly by patients….patients motivated to lose weight and improve their health.
Two options are available for physicians: they can send these cash-paying patients to Health Coaches for weight loss and health or they can incorporate these services within the practice. Not only does this provide a valuable service to help your immediate patient base but it provides opportunity to bring in new patients. Health programs that include coaching and weight loss are available for easy implementation. Now is the time to get ahead of the trend. There is already a surplus of doctors and nurses doing botox, fillers, massage and vein removal for added revenue.
Beth Dillaha is a COPE Certified Health Coach. She is Certified by Villanova School of Nursing, McDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.blueprint4health.com.