Wellness coaching is where the employment is

Wellness coaching is where the employment is

Summary: What we have lacked in America's health system is lifelong communication. Change that, and you will not only bend the health care cost curve, you are going to bring a lot of people into a fulfilling lifetime career.

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Wellness coaching may offer the best opportunity in health reform for mass employment.

It can take a decade to become a doctor. It can take a half-decade to learn nursing. But wellness coaches can be trained quickly, and provide value.

NOTE: This is the fifth in our week-long series on business opportunities from health reform. Yesterday I wrote about predictive health.

While insurance may appeal to MBAs, concierge medicine to trained physicians, and predictive health may appeal to researchers, wellness coaching is something anyone can do.

Wellness coaching is also the key to closing the primary care gap that health reform is about to unleash. There just aren't enough doctors out there for all of us to have a personal relationship with one. But coaches, working for doctors, whether under the aegis of a hospital, a clinic, or an insurance plan, that's another story.

Just as you get to pick your doctor in most medical plans, you should also be able to pick your coach. This is your trusted health adviser. They should have access to your personal health data, and they should be empowered to tell you not only what it means, but how you can change your fate.

Wellness coaches will be generalists. They will know a little about a lot of things. A little about nutrition, a little about physiology, and a little about psychology. If you think of the doctor as the head coach in your life, a wellness coach will be an assistant.

A wellness coach should have enough training to answer general health questions, to perform simple health tests, and they should have marketplace knowledge. If I ask my coach about fish oil, he or she should be able to explain it to me in words I understand.

Many people are going to chafe at the idea of having a coach in their face about their health, and if you've reached your 40s without one that's understandable. The key is to start building the profession, now, providing services to people whose views aren't fully-formed, and to learn from that.

Early steps have already been taken on the road to creating this new profession, with coaching being adapted to chronic conditions like diabetes. What is going to change is the spread of coaching from those who are sick to those who are well.

I believe there is big money to be made in wellness. I believe insurers are going to find their investments in wellness pay off handsomely, in slowly reducing the drain on our system from diabetes, heart disease, maybe even alcoholism and drug addiction.

What we have lacked in America's health system is lifelong communication. We get it when we're young from our pediatrician, our teachers, our parents. But we lose access to it, we make mistakes, and many of us don't even start to change until it's too late.

Change that, and you will not only bend the health care cost curve, you are going to bring a lot of people into a fulfilling lifetime career.

Topics: Legal, CXO, Health, IT Employment

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10 comments
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  • I can't see many employment opportunities there

    If wellness coaching is as easy as you say, and I think it is, then what stops you from being your own private wellness coach?

    Information abounds and it's free too so, if you are not doing it right for your health it's because you don't want to do it.

    As far as I can see only lack of motivation and personal preferences can stop you from doing it but if you lack motivation then I doubt you'll want someone around bugging you to eat healthy food and exercise when you don't like it.
    OS Reload
    • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

      @OS Reload Having an affiliation with a doctor or hospital, and having access to those resources, will make a big difference.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

    Yes agree there's a lot of effort going into wellness coaching and the coaches are different too from being a very light position, like I see on Craig's list for around $8 and hour to a full on nurse doing a complete follow up. Some are combining biometric monitoring too and utilize mobile technology to record your body actions with accelerometers and mobile phones. If done correctly without adding extensive marketing as some have seen this as an opportunity to sell services which I am seeing too, it can be a good thing.
    MedicalQuack
  • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

    As a coach who has many wellness clients, I like a lot of what you have to say. The most important thing I can do as a coach is keep my clients accountable for and to their goals. Keep them focused, be a safe environment for them to bounce ideas back and forth, but most of all, keep them moving in the direction of their goals--helping them to realize and celebrate the small steps along the way. Yes, client may want to lose 50 lbs, but that big a goal can be paralyzing. The important thing is to start moving towards that goal...one revolution at a time, making changes that over time stick and help the client to evolve.
    Look around the gym...not every one that works with a personal trainer is out of shape. Many are in great shape and just want/need someone to keep them motivated and accountable. It's not just how they got there but it's also how they're going to stay there.
    evolution360
  • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

    The sad part is the misguided belief that it will somehow save insurance companies money. There will ALWAYS be high end of life care costs - something else will replace heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The human body will always cost a lot of money to maintain as it starts to break down. The choices made will only speed up or prolong that decay, but it will occur. In everybody. Change my fate? I am going to die someday. Not a pleasant thought, but that is my fate. I cannot change it.
    aep528
    • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

      @aep528 Want to do it now or 30 years from now? Want to do it all at once or very expensively, over years, as from a chronic condition? That's your choice in wellness. Oh, and make a living will.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • RE: Wellness coaching is where the employment is

      @aep528 I'm going to disagree with you here. Proper diet and routine exercise does in fact decrease morbidity rates in most people as they grow older. As a wellness coach who has worked for several <a href="http://www.non12step-rehabs.org/longterm-drug-rehab.html" rel="dofollow">non 12 step drug rehabs</a> over the years, I can say with confidence that our role is becoming more accepted as we have proven to make differences in the lives of our patients/clients.
      richrollins
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