by Kandi Qualls, PhD
The success or failure of Accountable Care Organizations depends on the ability to establish a partnership between the providers of medical care and the patients who utilize it. We know that Accountable Care Organizations focus on the provider’s accountability in population-based healthcare, but what about the patient’s role in the accountability equation? The challenge we face is not just how to manage risk, but how to “coach” individuals on making sustainable changes to their lifestyle.Providers know that chronic conditions are a mixture of family history, genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Why is lifestyle not part of the treatment equation? Accountable Care Organizations need to provide “health coaching” avenues, so the patient is activated into the treatment equation of their chronic condition, and given the opportunity to be accountable for their lifestyle.Wellness Coaching can be delivered in many forms of patient engagment – face to face, telephonically, online, and email. In today’s world, we know that time is valuable, and many people are pressed for time to just see their provider, let alone making additional time for a Wellness Coach. In my 13 years of working with individuals, corporations, communities, the military and states; I have come to one conclusion about lifestyle change. If you can’t consistently reach a person to build a relationship, you can’t help them change their life.
I have personally developed and delivered Wellness Coaching Programs utilizing all of the delivery methods. I have found that Email Wellness Coaching has built the best relationship, provided the best time management solution, and gives the Wellness Coach multiple touch points with the patient each month to help them achieve sustainable, successful lifestyle changes.
- Benefits of personalized Wellness Coaching via email:
- Patient contacts their coach when it is convenient for them.
- Wellness Coach provides a personalized coaching response within 24 hours.
- Patient keeps all of their coaching emails for continued motivation and reference.
- Patients are more likely to open up about their life and habits in emails vs. phone or face to face, because it is less confrontational and patient has time to really think about what they want their coach to know and where they need help.
- Wellness Coach reads every patient email, and develops a coaching strategy specific to that patient’s situation – proper education, guidance, motivation, next steps, referrals to specific services patient has, etc.
- Unlimited coaching via email can be delivered in a cost effective manner.
Accountable Care Organizations must include the patient in the accountability of their treatment plan to have the greatest impact and success. Providers don’t have to be Certified Wellness Coaches in order to do this, but providing access (email, face to face, or phone) to a Certified Wellness Coach who can build a long term relationship with their patient and move them toward sustainable, successful lifestyle changes is the missing link!