Are you curious about the role a health coach plays on a collaborative care team?
FMCA’s Director of Coaching Development, Monique Class, MS, APRN, BC, was recently a guest on The Institute for Functional Medicine’s podcast, Pathways to Well-Being, to discuss the benefits of health coaching and their role in improving both patient and doctor outcomes as a part of the collaborative care team.
If you’ve been to a doctor’s office where you felt like you were being rushed, or didn’t get to ask all your questions—and then the visit is over. You’re not wrong. Doctors are getting burnt out by today’s healthcare system.
Monique explains that, as a clinician, you look to give quality care and be available for your clients to answer all their questions. But if you try to do that, you’ll be burnt out from the magnitude of questions that come into a practice via email and telephone calls, on top of also seeing your patients. Limited time available makes it harder for patients to communicate with their doctors in between visits—that’s where the collaborative care model comes in!
The collaborative care model would typically go like this: the doctor will see the patient and give them a care plan, and then if the patient calls into the practice, they’ll be told they have to make an appointment. That appointment can be a month or six weeks out just to get their questions answered, and that’s a source of frustration for everyone involved. It’s not because the doctor doesn’t want to answer the questions, there are just not enough hours in the day. Simply put, the traditional model isn’t working.
So what is a collaborative care team?
In the collaborative care model, what we’re referring to is a doctor working with a health coach and a patient, also known as the collaborative care team! The health coach’s role in a collaborative care team is to create a fully patient-centered experience for clients to follow the doctor’s protocols. Health coaches are joining the patients’ health journey, answering any questions patients may have along the way, following up, and supporting them through those changes. Patients are getting what they need, and doctors are finding that hiring a health coach to work with them in a clinical setting is giving them more time to focus on the medicine, labs, charting, research, and creating care plans. Coaches are the middle man, bridging the gap between the patient and the doctor, to help support the patient while taking pressure off of the doctor.
“Health coaches are the boots on the ground making that happen.” – Monique Class, MS, APRN, BC, FMCA’s Director of Coaching Development
As a practicing health coach it’s important to understand the scope of practice—what a health coach can and cannot do. In our FMCA Health Coach Certification™ Program, you will learn that as a coach you are not taking over the role of the doctor. Health coaches do not prescribe, order tests, interpret lab results, or diagnose clients. Your role as a health coach is to work alongside doctors as part wellness authority, part supportive mentor, and part behavior change specialist to help cultivate self-efficacy in clients.
How do collaborative care teams work virtually?
With the pandemic, we are seeing more medical practices shift towards a virtual model, using tools such as Zoom video conferencing and even wearable technology. The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used for patient consultations, home health monitoring, and biofeedback, and this is another place where health coaches add to their practice. Health coaches provide the necessary human element, and help clients make the most of their technology so it can be that much more effective in improving their health.
Wondering how you can work as a coach in a virtual environment? Monique explains that as a Functional Medicine Health Coach candidate, you learn in a remote setting because our program is 100% online. From learning your courses online, to doing your practicum online, it has been an easy transition for our Alumni to move into telehealth positions.
So how can a doctor start working with a health coach?
At the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, we have a matching program to help connect doctors with health coaches in their area or who are also interested in general or more specific medicine. Doctors can conduct interviews with health coaches and even try working with a health coach themselves to have a better understanding of how health coaching works in action!
Published: September 17, 2021