Friday, August 9, 2013

Roles of a Health Coach

A good health coach plays many roles and has many responsibilities in helping their clients achieve their health goals. The 6 major roles and responsibilities of a good health coach include the following:
  1. Providing self-management support to empower the client
  2. Educating the client in the areas of nutrition and lifestyle changes 
  3. Bridging the gap between the doctor and the patient
  4. Helping patients navigate the health care system
  5. Offering emotional support
  6. Serving as a continuity figure 
Providing self-management support. Self-management support is essential for patients to become empowered and extend their health care outside the clinic walls and into their real lives. Coaches train patients in seven domains of self-management support: providing information, teaching disease-specific skills, promoting healthy behaviors, imparting problem-solving skills, assisting with the emotional impact of chronic illness, providing regular follow-up and encouraging people to be active participants in their care.

Providing education. Providing education so that clients obtain the proper knowledge is key to empowering the client to live a better quality of life. A good health coach is instrumental in providing this knowledge to the client, especially in the areas of proper nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, i.e. detox, juicing, nutritional supplementation. This is critical for diabetic clients who must make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to better control their blood glucose levels and manage their diabetes. In fact, studies show that clients have better health outcomes when provided with disease-specific knowledge and skills in areas such as diabetes self-management. A meta-analysis of 53 randomized controlled trials concluded that self-management support improves blood pressure, blood glucose control and BMI.

Bridging the gap between clinician and patient. Throughout the care process, there are plenty of opportunities for disconnects between the clinician and the patient. Prescribing medications is one example. It is a two-part endeavor: 1) writing prescriptions and 2) making sure patients obtain, understand and actually take the medications as prescribed. Physicians perform part one but lack time to address the critical second part. Health coaches can bridge these gaps by following up with patients, asking about needs and obstacles, and addressing health literacy, cultural issues and social-class barriers.

Helping patients navigate the health care system. Many patients, particularly the elderly, disabled and marginalized, need a navigator to help locate, negotiate and engage in services. Coaches can help coordinate care and speak up for patients when their voices are not heard.

Offering emotional support. Coping with illness is emotionally challenging. Well-intentioned but rushed clinicians may fail to address patients' emotional needs. As trust and familiarity grow, coaches can offer emotional support and help patients cope with their illnesses.

Serving as a continuity figure. Coaches connect with patients not only at office visits but also between visits, creating familiarity and continuity. This is particularly helpful in practices where clinicians work part-time or see one another's patients.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, nice post and a good source of information. It really shows that you're an expert in this field. I'm looking for some informations about nutrition coach in this site. Anyways, thanks for sharing. Cheers!