Coaching Report

2016 March Coaching Report

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2016 March Coaching Report

“Then I sit at my workstation to document and bill for our encounter, perched at the edge of my seat, on the verge of despair.”

The Doctor’s New Dilemma. Suzanne Koven, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital. New England Journal of Medicine, February 18, 2016.

This quote on despair is the last line of Dr. Koven’s article. An unintentional victim of well-intentioned healthcare reforms is the relationship between a patient and his/her healthcare provider. What was easy and natural for physicians and nurses in past decades and generations -- to accompany with deep presence and empathy a worried soul on a journey through illness to health or otherwise -- has gotten lost in the onslaught of rules, policies, and technologies.

Now we find ourselves conducting research on the ROI of a warm, collaborative patient relationship, and developing new skills training programs, because human wisdom (we used to know that relationships heal and empower) got lost in a world of evidence-based medicine. The good news is that the evidence-based door is open and welcoming to innovation, to get even better at what we used to know and know how to do.

This month we focus on how coaches and coaching skills can assist healthcare providers in bringing back the positive impact of relationship, with tools and techniques that can turn a brief encounter into a catalyst for change. Building a deep connection in a few moments, eliciting a patient’s heartfelt goals, co-creating options, and nudging motivation and confidence up a notch.

There is potential to expand and enrich the conversation. Dr. Ofri wrote a New York Times article on March 3 on Why Doctors Care about Happiness, making the case that a physician’s interest in a patient’s happiness has no side effects and may even help.

This month we feature a new research study by a UCSF team which suggests that patient visits with patients working with health coaches are more productive, less demanding and more time-sufficient because patients are better at navigating and self-managing their health concerns.

Our March 24 webinar features three physicians, Drs. Frates, Phillips, and Kakarala who are using coaching skills, or becoming coaches, as a path to better patient outcomes, career satisfaction, and reduced burnout.

Last, our featured book titled Relationship Power in Health Care by Harvard physician, John Livingstone, & Ms. Gaffney, delivers a rich, evidence-based resource on updated science of patient relationships, affect regulation, behavior change, and clinician self-care.

Thankfully coaches don’t have to wait for more research on the impact of relationships; we already live by the human wisdom of the ages. Relationships open minds, lead to new adventures, upgrade creativity, and generate accomplishments previously out of reach.

Changing of the Guard: From Laurel to Chip
A few months ago our inimitable operations and marketing leader, Laurel Doggett, decided to move on to new and creative endeavors. Laurel’s contribution launched our IOC membership association and new website. I wouldn’t be writing this tribute without the foundation Laurel built. Laurel defines conscientiousness; combined with her special wisdom, she pulled together disparate parts and people into a well-functioning organization. She continues as an honorary IOC Fellow, hopefully for the rest of our lives together.

Our search for a Director of Operations and Marketing led us to another amazing soul, Chip Carter, who combines the spirit of a coach with a distinguished career in technology engineering and C-suite non-profit leadership. Chip is shaping the IOC for long-term growth and thriving. Please join me in appreciating deeply these two special people, both inspiring forces in the coaching community.

Onward and upward,

Margaret Moore
Institute Co-Director, Margaret Moore, aka Coach Meg


Clinician Perspectives on Working With Health Coaches:A Mixed Methods Approach. Dubé, et al. Families, Systems, & Health. 2015.

This study offers an initial glimpse into clinicians’ opinions and perspectives on collaborating with health coaches in a primary care setting.  Evidence for the benefits of health coaching for health outcomes is accumulating; this study adds clinicians’ perspectives (physicians and nurse practitioners) about the role and contributions of health coaches to patient care.

Health coaching was defined as “self-management support, navigational support of clinic and community recourses, medication reconciliation, and other patient-centered support.” The coaches developed on-going relationships with the patients – they met with them before the visit with the clinician, stayed during the visit, discussed issues afterwards, and kept in touch with the patients between visits.  After the patients had been part of the program for at least 5 months, the researchers asked clinicians what were their options about patient care in the cases when health coaches were included, compared to when they were not.

Through survey and interviews, clinicians shared that health coaches improved their work experience. They stated that the visits with patients who had been coached were less demanding and more time had opened up to address other issues during the visit. Physicians felt that they were able to address additional questions from patients during the visit, since many on-going issues had been clarified during coaching. They also felt that the coaches were able to closely connect with the patients and talk about more personal issues; the coaching had improved patient self-management skills, which would lead to improvements in health. Interestingly, coaching had also indirectly improved the communication between the clinician and the patients; and coaching was helping patients navigate the healthcare system.

Coaching can enhance relationships in primary care and other medical settings as well as indirectly improving the way physicians and patients communicate. 

View article on line here.

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