I don’t know if you are aware of this recent survey, — In a recent Mayo Clinic survey, it was established that 40% of society is now seeking methods of alternative healthcare as primary interventions for their health care needs. These alternatives consist of nutrition, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, energy healing modalities and many others. Since alternative health isn’t covered under insurance, most of these businesses operate on a cash basis. Patients are spending close to $40 billion a year on alternative approaches!
At the same time, doctors are being squeezed by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement schedules. Did you know that doctors now spend an average of only 7 minutes with each patient! And many doctors are getting loans to meet payroll or are closing their doors on their practices, being forced to go with hospital or doctor groups.
The doctors I have personally queried have stated that they are frustrated and worried. They would like to spend more time with each patient, but they are caught in the middle of a system that is busting at the seams. They are acutely aware that many patients walk away feeling like they haven’t been heard or listened to and all too often, the doctor doesn’t have the time to provide compassion or educate the patient the way they would like. The doctor is frustrated because they don’t have the resources they need to help the patient. In their professional meetings, they are being advised to develop cash based systems within their practices to supplement some of the lost revenue through insurance cut backs but they are at a loss to know what to do!
Health Coaches to the rescue! Many health coaches are partnering with doctors with busy practices to provide a resource to which the doctor can refer their patients. Let’s say a health coach who specializes in working with high blood pressure partners with a busy family doctor. The doctor repeatedly tells his high blood pressure patients to lose weight, cut down on stress and to exercise, but the doctor doesn’t have time to tell the patient how to do that and doesn’t have the ability to support the patient in doing that. The doctor tells the patient of a program he has with a health coach that will work with the patient to educate, support and answer any questions the patient has. The doctor is happy because they have an excellent resource with proven results to refer the patient to, the patient is happy because he/she is going to get the attention, education and understanding needed to empower them to take their health into their own hands and the health coach is happy because he/she gets a steady source of high quality referrals to work with. Win-win-win!
Now, as a patient, you will probably have a one-on-one interview with the health coach and then be placed into a group program where you will have the opportunity to ask questions, share concerns and get answers. You will attend virtual trainings either on the internet or over the phone, you will get worksheets, step by step instructions for diet, exercise and stress reduction through email and you will probably be placed in a private face book group made up of the participants in your particular program. This group work allows the health coach to keep the prices for the program low- usually a $400-500 price tag for 5-8 weeks of instruction. The health coach shares a part of this fee with the doctor (perfectly legal) giving the doctor a cash based program within his practice. The health coach and the doctor communicate throughout this process. You, the patient, get to learn about your body and how to keep your blood pressure within normal limits with the minimum amount of prescription drugs, you may be able to stay off prescription drugs altogether, you may be able to take natural supplements and through lifestyle changes, you may avoid heart surgery, diabetes and other disabling conditions!
This will be a growing trend that you will notice in the health care industry. Doctors got into health care because they have a deep desire to help people. They really do want their patients to have the best possible outcome. And for now, this looks like a three way win for the industry and a new method of healthcare delivery!