Published: December 22, 2020
Remote communication, health tracking apps, wearable tech—the Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked the use of digital platforms across industries, and health coaching is no exception.
Health coaches that embrace the potential of these digital tools can improve outcomes for their clients. When coaches make use of the most current technologies available, they become more effective, and more marketable, by expanding the ways they offer support and collaboration. This contributes to their own professional growth, and the growth of our field as a whole.
A variety of different technologies are shaping the future of our field.
The first and most obvious type is virtual communication platforms (such as Zoom). For years, these platforms have allowed coaches to stay connected with their clients easily and often—and in the pandemic, clients are even more inclined to take advantage of telehealth options when possible.
New software and apps to help monitor and improve health are coming out all the time. Heads Up Health, Calm, brainFM, and My Fitness Pal are all digital tools that can be used to monitor and improve health. These tools provide insights into what the Functional Medicine model calls Modifiable Lifestyle Factors, such as nutrition, sleep, movement and exercise, stress management and relaxation, and relationships.
In November, Omada Health shared the results of their randomized clinical trial which demonstrate that Omada Health’s Digital Diabetes Prevention Program (d-DPP) achieved a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in Hemoglobin A1c reduction and weight loss over a 12-month period. These findings illustrate how digital tools can make a meaningful difference in managing and preventing chronic illness.
Wearable technology offers innovative ways to track health information we wouldn’t have access to through most self-report tools. These wearables also offer helpful data that can share insights on personal health trends over time. Some examples of wearable tech for health include the Oura ring, Continuous Glucose Monitor, and Fitbit. Each of these provide ways to track health information that coaches can use to empower their clients to improve their health.
Just one example—suppose you have a client who’s complaining about sleep issues. They get an Oura ring, a wearable tracker that monitors sleep and activity at a deeper level than some of the more basic trackers. Using their Oura ring data, the coach helps them realize that they’re most restless on nights where they eat after 7 pm. The coach then works with client to change their midnight snack habit and improve their sleep. And thanks to the ongoing feedback provided by their wearable technology, the client can see how their habit changes are reflected in the data. This kind of feedback can make changes feel more “real” for clients who are working on making subtle shifts.
Healthcare is more effective with technology, and technology is even more effective with a coach.
“We must remind ourselves that being a successful health coach is all about relationship, which is invariably tied to our ability to listen, and while technology is a superstar at recording data, it can never really listen,” author Lee Jordan writes in an article from Ace Fitness Insights on the role of technology in health coaching. Health coaches provide the necessary human element that bridges the gap between clients and their tech, making the technology that much more effective for improving their clients’ health.
By leveraging the technology available and adapting as new tech emerges, coaches can broaden the ways they support their clients. Staying on top of new tech can make better, lasting lifestyle change more accessible, setting clients up for success and making coaches themselves more marketable. Whether coaches are working with a provider or in their own business, these tech tools will help keep them on the cutting edge.
Are you ready to start your own path towards becoming a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach? Learn more about our award-winning and internationally-connected online training program here.