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  • Writer's picturePenny Kehagioglou

What is common between Coaching and Strategy in Healthcare

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Health coaches have the privilege of interacting with people’s personal and professional lives, supporting people to become the best they can possibly be by optimising their health and wellbeing.

I can describe Health Coaching sessions as unfolding Strategies which develop gradually and surely over their course. The Strategic direction is set by the coach and is about people identifying their purpose and long-term vision for health and wellbeing. Thereafter, the Strategy can take different directions, often unpredictable to the coach and always driven by the coachees and their Strategic goals, followed by goal prioritisation.

Why is vision setting so important for people to improve their personals and professional lives? Like any Strategy, a vision statement sets the aspirational long-term outcomes which people can use to work backwards and define their specific goals so as to achieve those outcomes.

Is there one way to Strategize in the context of Health Coaching? Certainly not, as every person’s interim goals differ and can go through twists and turns according to people’s personal and professional circumstances, individual character strengths and abilities, individual motivations as well as external threats and opportunities. In addition, as one goal gets explored in detail, another goal may arise, until a full complement of goals and their implementation Strategy is designed which will lead to the ultimate vision.

What has health coaching to do with Strategy in Healthcare? As Ruth Wolever et al has said in the Coaching in Healthcare (Chapter 32) within the Sage Handbook of Coaching, there are three main applications of coaching in healthcare including:

1) coaching patients to improve their long-term health outcomes;

2) coaching the healthcare workforce to improve their health and wellbeing;

3) coaching our healthcare leaders to help them navigate through challenges

As a coach, healthcare worker, leader in healthcare and anytime potential patient myself,

I believe all those groups of people have one vision in common and that is ‘their optimum Health and Wellbeing’. Health coaching should be offered to everyone in our healthcare system, whether they are patients, healthcare staff or leaders driving the strategic direction of our system.

Patients can be empowered to take control of their health through lifestyle change, tools and techniques to manage anxiety and mental illness, through boosting self-management and self-efficacy and reducing the needs for acute healthcare.

Our healthcare workforce can be equipped with coping mechanisms to manage continuous and rapid change, workload stress and work-life balance leading to more resilient and better performing organisations, with more optimised healthcare workforce capacity.

Healthcare leaders can reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, improve their lifestyle habits, understand their purpose and that of their teams’ better and be equipped with skills to help them make challenging decisions about the future of our healthcare system, managing demand, boosting innovation and creating financially sustainable care pathways. With the new Integrated Care Systems taking shape and becoming formalised in July 2021, there is no better time that now for Health Coaching to feature in the development of our healthcare leaders who will in turn transform the culture in healthcare, boosting innovation, creativity and resilience.

Health coaches who are also clinicians can be very influential at all levels of coaching, regardless of whether the coachee is a patient, healthcare worker or leader but they can be particularly helpful to patients with complex and/or chronic illnesses.

Digital health coaching, including video coaching, SMS, email or telephone coaching, has offered the unique opportunity for patients, healthcare staff and leaders to fit health coaching within their day-to-day commitments, receive effective and responsive coaching on demand and to track their goals effectively through online tracking. Group coaching has the added benefit of peer-to-peer support and can be delivered well online or in-person.

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