The Coach Prescription

The Coach Prescription

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The Coach Prescription
The Coach Prescription

Starting January 2020 in the US, physicians will be able to deliver health and well-being coaching services to their patients, putting to use what are called Category III CPT codes awarded by the American Medical Association (AMA). The CPT coding system is the basis for healthcare reimbursement in the US. The AMA defines coaches as “non-physician healthcare professionals certified by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) or the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC),” organizations responsible for unified national standards and certifications for health and wellness coaches and health educators respectively. The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs led the application to the AMA so that the VA can immediately start delivering and tracking coaching services nationwide. The VA, NBHWC, and NCHEC are now collaborating on the path to reimbursement by the US government and health plans.

We recently wrote a research dose on the two published compendia of health and wellness coaching (HWC) research, which now includes 100+ randomized controlled studies as of mid-2018. Today we feature a primary care practice-based study of coaching for weight loss. Ben Crocker, physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who presented at our IOC 2017 conference, refers patients to the health and wellness coach on his team when they want support for weight loss, stress management, and managing chronic diseases.

Their study titled — Primary Care-Based Health Coaching Intervention for Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Adults — delivered an average of 11 coaching sessions for the participants in the coaching group in the first year. The first 60-minute session was in-person and the ongoing phone sessions lasted an average of 31 minutes.

Bottom line? The coaching intervention led to an average weight loss at 12 months of 7.24 percent of body weight — a mean of 15.4 pounds. At two years, average weight loss was well sustained at 6.8% of body weight.

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