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Coaches help members make lifestyle changes
Emphasis is on keeping them healthy
When members at Regence BlueCross Blue Shield want to lose weight, start exercising, quit smoking, manage the stress in their lives, or get a good night's sleep, help is just a phone call away.
The Portland-based health plan offers health coaching at no charge as part of a suite of member benefits designed to help members maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It's all a part of Regence's emphasis on keeping members healthy now to avoid health care costs in the future, says Loralee Trocio, MPH, supervisor health coach program.
The program is available to all Activate members, whether or not they have a chronic condition or any other health care problems. However, the health coaches work closely with the health plan's disease management and case management department to ensure that all the needs of a member are met.
"We emphasize all the different resources available through their health insurance plan. In some cases, the members may also benefit from working with a disease management nurse, a case manager, or even a behavioral health specialist. If we identify a service the member could benefit from, a referral is made to that program," she says.
The health coaches work closely with other departments at Regence and sometimes co-manage members. For instance, a health coach working with a member with diabetes may refer the member to disease management.
Members who sign up for the Regence Health Coaching Program work one on one with a personal health coach over the telephone or through e-mail on any of five tracks: tobacco cessation, stress management, weight loss and nutrition, exercise, or help with sleep.
"The tracks are determined by the individual based on what the member would want to achieve and the goals he or she wants to set. People have an idea of what they want, but it's a matter of getting specific," Trocio says.
The goal of the program is to give members tools and skills to work toward behavioral changes that promote a healthy lifestyle, which they have defined for themselves. Members typically work with a health coach for twelve 45-minute sessions over a period of three to six months.
The health coaches help the members set "smart goals," which are specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and timely objectives.
For instance, a general goal is "I'd like to be more physically active."
A "smart goal" is: "I'm going to run two miles after work on Tuesday and Thursday."
"If they are still contemplating changing or implementing an exercise routine, we address their stage or readiness and help them work toward taking action," Trocio says.
The health coach helps the member identify any obstacles he or she has encountered in the past and develops strategies to overcome them. They work with the members to help them become aware of the strengths they can build on while reaching their goal, she adds.
The health coaches have a variety of backgrounds, but all have earned verification as a wellness coach.
The health coaches work closely with the case management and disease management departments at Regence and sometimes co-manage members.
For instance, a disease management nurse working with a member with diabetes may refer the member to a health coach.
The disease management nurse would educate the member about how to check his or her blood sugar, how to take insulin, or what specific diet to follow. The health coach would help them set goals around the diet or physical activity recommended by the nurse.
"We partner with each other to meet each other's needs," she says.