With the growing availability of direct-to-consumer lab tests, health coaching clients are being presented with so many new options when it comes to better understanding their health. Clients no longer have to go through a medical provider to order lab work. This wide availability also has health coaches wondering how they can work with labs while staying within their scope of practice.
Can health coaches order labs for their clients through these direct-to-consumer lab tests? Are health coaches able to recommend lab tests based on their client's health concerns? Can a health coach interpret DTC lab work results and recommend treatment?
Monique Class, FMCA Senior Content Developer & Lead Educator, recently held a webinar for the FMCA Alumni Program members discussing how health coaches can work with labs while staying within the scope of practice. This webinar mostly focused on health coaches that do not have a license to interpret labs.
"I think what's happening in the lab industry is going to elevate the status of coaching in a large way," said Class. She believes that DTC lab testing will help make health coaches a pivotal part of a client's collaborative care team.
"The mantra is to educate," she continued. "You want to collaborate. If you don't have a license to interpret, you want to develop your own network of medical professionals."
Collaboration is key in health coaching. Coaches regularly work with clients to co-create a health and wellness plan. But when it comes to working with labs, health coaches should have credible places and practitioners they can recommend to clients for interpreting lab work. This is a great way to help clients build up a collaborative care team all working to help them reach their goals.
In terms of health coaches staying within the scope of practice around lab work, it all comes down to the client. If a client comes in asking about getting certain labs, a health coach can help educate them on where to get tests done. A health coach can educate on credible DTC labs, but they can not prescribe them. A health coach can't tell a client what to order. The moment a health coach initiates the conversation about labs, they are out of scope of practice.
"We're experts in behavior change," says Class. "An abnormal lab value without behavior change stays abnormal. What's misguided right now is that everybody is focusing on the labs, focus on the lifestyle."
This is where health coaches truly shine. Health coaches are not experts in lab work, however, they are experts in helping clients make the behavior changes they need to improve overall health. Behavior change is a vital piece of a collaborative care approach to health because it is where transformation happens, where improving lab work begins.
"Labs don't change people, coaches do."
To read more about how health coaches can work with DTC labs or to learn about a new company revolutionizing the DTC lab industry, check out Dr. Sandi's Forbes article on health coaches and lab work and watch the replay of our webinar featuring Dr. Mark Hyman's company Function Health.