By Guest Contributor Samantha Reid | supervisor of wellness services at the Greenville Health System
In-person coaching has potential to transform health care
Picture it; you are sitting at your desk diligently working to get a project done and your health coach calls and starts talking about how you should start exercising.
As you mindlessly agree with everything the coach says, all you can think about is the big presentation that you have tomorrow. You hold the phone up to your ear, pretend that you are listening, and continue to review the presentation for tomorrow. What a waste of time coaching is anyway. How can someone get to know you over the phone?
Exercising a different way
Now picture another coaching scenario that happens in a different way. You are in a quiet room with the undivided attention of your health coach. There are no distractions. Your cell phone is on silent. You know you will have time to finish the project waiting on your desk because your health coach scheduled this appointment around your schedule – and even came to your place of work.
The coach listens to your family history, the barriers that keep you from exercising, your eating habits, and asks you open-ended questions to get to know you better. He doesn’t judge you and even smiles and nods as you talk. As you sit through the coaching session, you realize you are doing most of the talking. You are actually talking yourself into going for a walk tomorrow. How did the coach do that? He isn’t even telling you to exercise – you just want to.
The coach is even helping you create achievable goals. You are so used to vague and overwhelming directives such as “exercise more” and “eat better.” However, at the end of this session, you have three smart goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive – goals you can actually achieve before the next session. You leave knowing you have learned something, excited to get started.
The first scenario is a perfect example of telephonic coaching. Such coaches are trying to communicate with and educate the participants, but they can’t make a proper connection because they never truly have the participants’ full attention.
The Greenville Health System (GHS) has moved away from telephonic coaching and is now focusing on Care Management and Disease Management for its employees. The Care Management team works collaboratively with providers and high-risk participants to develop individualized care plans, to decrease the gaps in care and therefore, lower the health risks of those individuals. Our Disease Management team conducts in-person coaching for lower risk participants as well as those who are managing their risks with the help of Care Management. These two departments work hand-in-hand to provide comprehensive care, at the right time and the right place.
GHS’s Business Health department is comprised not only of the Disease Management team, but also the Wellness team, which sends Health Educators to local businesses to conduct screenings and then implement wellness programs. One of these programs is “Five Phase Wellness” that includes face-to-face coaching sessions with a nurse practitioner for the highest risk individuals and health educator coaching sessions for the moderate to low risk individuals.
Companies have seen many benefits from this phased, in-person coaching approach to wellness, including reduced health care costs, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, improved employee satisfaction, and an overall better understanding of what being “well” truly means.
Our approach to coaching is transforming healthcare for our own employees and the communities we serve. We are trying to heal our patients and participants with the compassion that we would expect if the roles were reversed. We are constantly improving our coaching and teaching methods as we learn from experiences and get feedback from our clients and from our own employees. Our goal is to ensure that people not only leave our coaching sessions having learned something, but being able to make a change as well.