Health Coach: Someone in Your Corner!


SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — We are all looking for the next wonder drug that can cure whatever ails us. However, according to a recent landmark study, social connection can be just as important as a prescription pill. Among other things, it can strengthen the immune system, and help us recover from disease faster. A Seattle area hospital has taken the concept to the next level by introducing community and wellness to its patients who have chronic conditions.

Georgia Henney, says, “I’ve been sort of keeping gaining weight. I’ve been having a lot of falls.”

That is how Georgia met Alex Yonkman, her health coach. The six month long one-to-one program trains volunteers in the community to support patients with chronic conditions.

“I thought to myself, this young whippersnapper isn’t going to know anything about this old lady, and then I decided to rethink that, and I am thrilled.” Says Henney.

Henney and Yonkman, a pre-med student, met weekly carving out a plan to improve her health.

“A big interest for me was nutrition.” States Yonkman.

Henney explains, “That’s the piece of the puzzle that has just, I’ve just not conquered that. I eat from the buffet where I live. I mean, you could have ice cream anytime you wanted.”

That’s now been replaced by healthier options.

Henney explains, “I have vegetables. If I don’t get enough for dinner, I throw a bag of frozen in the microwave, that fills me up.”

Alex Yonkman, Health Coach at Valley Medical Center says, “She had all the tools. It was just a matter of setting them down on paper as goals and sticking to the goals.”

Research shows that having a support person, like Yonkman, can reduce stress and improve overall health.

“I would say, the biggest thing that’s changed is her view of herself.” Explains Yonkman.

That led Henney to start exercising to prevent further falls.

“I like what I’m doing.” Says Henney.

And better yet … Yonkman says, “We developed a true friendship.”

Henney says, “Alex is in my corner.”

Health coaches at Valley Medical Center are also trained to support patients dealing with COPD, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Meetings can be in-person or online. If you’re interested in having your own health coach, check with your health insurance company to find out about similar resources in your area.

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Joe Alexander-Short, Videographer Roque Correa, Editor.


REPORT #3104

BACKGROUND: A health coach is a trained professional who partners with individuals to help them reach their health and wellness goals. Unlike medical doctors or therapists, health coaches focus on promoting positive lifestyle changes and empowering clients to take charge of their own well-being. Through consistent guidance, support, and accountability, health coaches assist clients in pinpointing their health priorities through goal setting and the development of practical action plans. They address various aspects of the individual’s life including nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep. By creating a collaborative client-first approach, health coaches inspire and motivate individuals to make continual changes that lead to improved health and a greater quality of life.


THE STUDY: Health coaches are essential allies for patients with chronic conditions. In a study spearheaded by Ruth Wolever, PhD, Director of Vanderbilt Health Coaching at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease increased their physical activity after ten sessions with a health coach. This stamina was maintained well past the intervention — six months to be exact. Wolever believes that “Chronic health conditions — particularly heart disease and diabetes — are largely driven by behavior and lifestyle patterns. It can be very hard to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle, so any interventions that will help people make and sustain these healthy changes are vital.” The study also measured interactions between health coaching and genetic risk testing. Half of the coaching group and half of the control group were given the results of their genetic risk testing. This was to gauge whether that information would increase outcomes in the coaching group. Among the participants at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, those who went through coaching and genetic risk testing lost four more pounds than the others.


NEW REGULATIONS: On January 1st, 2020, the American Medical Association (AMA) approved Category III CPT codes for health coaches. Current Procedural Technology, also known as CPT codes, were created to aid health coaches and wellness providers in receiving potential reimbursement through insurance payers. Before these codes were established, patients weren’t allowed to use insurance as a means of payment for health coach services. Now, there may be hope. Reimbursement by insurance payers for Category III codes has been deemed optional. However, it’s customary that the codes are Category 1 approved first before reimbursement is available. Also, the AMA acknowledges individuals as health coaches only if they are a “non-physician health care professional certified by NBHWC or the NCHEC”. Only after attaining certification from either of those two organizations is an individual allowed to utilize these new CPT codes.


* For More Information, Contact:

Kristin Bidwell


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