Health Coaching for Health Equity
By now, you've likely heard the terms "health equity" and "social determinants of health." As it turns out, paying careful attention to these two things can be key in program adherence and utilization, increasing employee engagement, and improving overall health and well-being for your members.
Health equity exists when all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or other societal factors, have fair and just access, opportunity, and resources to achieve their highest potential for health. Addressing social determinants of health is vital for improving health and reducing longstanding disparities in health and healthcare.
We all know that health coaching is the use of evidence-based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to safely engage in healthy behaviors. But at Kannact, we take health coaching to the next level. We combine the power of equitable, culturally competent health management care with three pillars: preventative health, mental health, and chronic condition management to create Whole Health Kannact. Our highly vetted, board-certified coaches assist our members in navigating their healthcare system efficiently and effectively. We provide self-management support and become a bridge between clinician and patient, offering emotional support and continuity of care for true adherence and accessibility. Kannact health coaches acknowledge health equity barriers from the start to ensure your members receive the right outcomes. Our team uses a model where coaches have a lot of autonomy, regardless of how broad or narrow the conditions they treat are. We believe this leads to less institutional bias when compared to typical prescriptive models, such as with an app-first approach solution.
Let's check out these two member experiences:
Jane and Luisa have similar professions and both were diagnosed with diabetes which has progressed to chronic kidney disease.
Jane lives in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Her primary care doctor is part of a large health system which consistently delivers some of the best outcomes in the country. Primary care teams have a lot of time with their patients. Jane lives a convenient 5-minute drive from her doctor’s office, which she comfortably does with her car whenever she has an appointment.
When Jane was told that her diabetes had begun to affect her kidneys, she immediately told her spouse and adult children. They accompanied her to appointments with her dietician, who provided a menu that Jane could follow to improve her blood sugar control and kidney function. She had a number of large (some organic) grocers in her neighborhood which stocked fresh produce and healthy alternatives that still looked familiar to what she grew up eating.
The doctor recommended a brand-new drug to help control her blood sugar as well, which had the benefit of reducing her appetite as well. There was no generic version, but everyone agreed it was worth it. Jane was able to manage her condition, by dramatically improving her HbA1c and controlling her kidney function.
Luisa lives in a small town in the south of Texas. Her first language is Spanish and it is sometimes hard for her to understand her doctor, who only speaks English.
When Luisa was told that her diabetes had begun to affect her kidneys, she tried her best to change her diet and improve her exercise on her own, but was not able to. Her doctor repeatedly told her that she needed to improve the numbers and gave her many handouts with menus and meal recipes, but she could not integrate them into her cooking, especially not when cooking for the rest of her family. Her health plan sent her flyers for apps that she could download or programs she could enroll in, but it was never clear what they would do for her or how relevant they would be.
After a few years, her kidney disease progressed to the point of needing a kidney transplant. Her doctor put her on dialysis and told her she needed to lower her HbA1c in order to be a candidate for a kidney transplant.
At that time, her health plan introduced her to Kannact. A health coach called her. He spoke Spanish and was able to relate to her situation. In fact: he was a kidney donor himself, had family members who had gone through a similar situation, and could relate to her troubles.
Luisa’s health coach helped her find culturally-appropriate dietary changes that she could manage and brainstormed exercise techniques that would work with her chronic pain.
After a couple of months, the health coach realized something shocking: Luisa was not attending all her dialysis appointments. Her daughter, who drove her to all doctor’s appointments, sometimes had to work during the dialysis times and could not take her. The coach explained how important these appointments were for her body and, together with Luisa, they came up with a support circle that included other family members, friends, and even a neighbor that could drive her to appointments that she missed.
After working together for 2 years, not only was Luisa attending all her dialysis appointments, but she lowered her HbA1c over 2 points and was a candidate for a kidney transplant.
Prior to Kannact, there was no health equity for Luisa. Jane had a lot of support and good odds of continuing to do well. Luisa had a lot more barriers in the way of her success.
To be more equitable, health coaches have to understand the needs, priorities, and barriers towards the success of each and every member. Initially, Luisa did not fully understand her situation. Her lack of consistent transportation and not leaning on the support from her community, to even more alarming obstacles like fully understanding the scope of her condition, was dismantled by breaking down her language barrier.
When it comes to truly offering an equitable care solution within a diverse workforce, the challenge becomes more heightened when intersectional complexities are considered (specific needs of members such as preferring a provider who is female, Asian, queer, etc.). That's where Kannact Health Coaches can boost productivity by saving members valuable time to ensure the right connection is made. From closing gaps in care and DEI initiatives to improving engagement and utilization, for organizations truly committed to providing an inclusive environment that will affect health outcomes across the board, Kannact is the solution. We encourage you to think about your employee population. Would they receive the same equitable, culturally competent whole health support?
We invite you to explore how you can empower your employees with Kannact whole health support by scheduling a free consultation and demo here.