Health-Coaching Strategy Hopeful in Managing Chronic Diseases


Healthcare professionals are no longer just prescribing medicines, but some are taking on the role of “health coach” for their patients.

The Institute for Optimizing Health Outcomes (IOHO) and Sanofi announced today the release of a white paper entitled "Health Coaching for Chronic Conditions; Engaging and Supporting Patients to Self Manage". The paper brings together essential sources of knowledge that underscore the necessity for health coaching, in addition to education, to facilitate optimal self-management of chronic disease and reduce overall healthcare costs.

Currently, chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer) are the leading cause of death and disability throughout the developed world, and in Canada account for 89% of all deaths. They also are responsible for significant cost to the health care system. Diabetes alone had an estimated annual cost of $6.7 billion in 2011.

"Patients inherently want to self-manage their chronic conditions," said Durhane Wong-Rieger, President of the Institute for Optimizing Health Outcomes, "but they may experience many barriers, such as lack of motivation, unrealistic goals, or competing priorities, which interfere with the ability to adhere to prescribed treatment or to make lifestyle changes.  Health care systems, designed primarily for acute care, are generally not set up to support self-care, and healthcare professionals often lack the tools and training.  And that's why health coaching is so important."

Earlier this year, the IOHO and Sanofi announced a partnership to customize a training program for Canadian healthcare practitioners who want to help their patients better manage chronic health conditions. The program, recently introduced at the 1st Canadian Summit on Coaching for Self-Management Support, has three components:  skills training, enrolment in a community of practice, and certification.  Certification is a pre-requisite to the "train-the-trainers" program to be offered next year. The IOHO health-coaching program, now being offered to healthcare professionals across Canada, brings together essential skills of motivational interviewing, solution-focused goal setting, and cognitive behaviour therapy, into a five-step coaching framework.

"We have been delighted at the response to the program.  Healthcare professionals increasingly recognize the value of empowering patients to self-manage and appreciate the practical training and the opportunity to participate in a community of practice for on-going skills development," said Wong-Rieger.

Durhane Wong-Rieger will be speaking further about the need for health coaching at the upcoming Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) Congress in Toronto on Friday, October 28 at 10 a.m. More information can be found on the CDA Congress website