Health Coaching

An article in today’s Boston Globe brought light to an area of the health industry that I find particularly intriguing.

At Duke, specially trained health coaches are helping patients implement a personalized care plan that complements treatment prescribed by their regular physicians. However, centers must straddle the line between adopting non-mainstream therapies that may improve a patient’s quality of life while avoiding unproven alternative therapies. “We’re extremely wasteful in healthcare in America, because we don’t respect what the patient can bring to the table, the healing properties of the body itself, the use of lower-technology routes to healing,” says Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard health-quality specialist who heads the non-profit institute for Healthcare Improvement.

But as always evidence matters. That’s why Medicare funded a Duke study of 154 middle-age people at high risk of heart disease. In 10 months, people who received health coaching were exercising nearly 4 days a week, two days more than when they started, and had an average 10-point drop in cholesterol, while the people who only got standard checkups barely budged.

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