Primary care clinicians and physicians, struggling to address several points on a patient’s agenda during a 15-minute visit, cannot possibly meet all of the needs of patients with serious or chronic conditions. Consequently, many patients leave primary care visits not understanding what their doctors have told them. Although shared decision making is associated with improved outcomes, few patients participate in that process. Meanwhile, average adherence to prescribed medications stands at roughly 50%, while adherence to prescribed lifestyle changes hover at less than 10%.
Health coaching can be defined as helping patients to gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and confidence to become active participants in their care so that they can achieve their self-identified health goals. Althalia physicians play this important role for Althalia members.
No matter who adopts the coaching role, coaching presumes a collaborative paradigm (i.e., asking patients what changes they are willing to make), not a directive one (i.e., telling patients what to do).