Coaching service for patients – a first for the UK
An innovative new service for local NHS patients is being piloted by Southern Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) from the beginning of February, as part of the Better Care For Norfolk programme.
Norfolk Healthline is a telephone-based health coaching service which is free to patients. It will provide information to enhance existing support for patients, helping them understand their conditions and take a more active role in making the health and care choices that are right for them.
The first phase of the pilot is for patients with hip, knee and back problems who are referred to the Southern Norfolk orthopaedic triage team. The pilot will be extended across three practices in Southern Norfolk PCT later this year to include management of long term conditions to help patients with one or more chronic diseases to better understand their conditions(s) and become more empowered to make the health choices that are right for them.
Health and social services in central Norfolk are working in partnership with Health Dialog, a care management services company on this pilot scheme, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
These are companies that have a range of experience in this field. Health Dialog already runs a very successful model of coaching and disease management in the USA.
Health coaches will be available to answer people's health care questions and offer support, guidance and information. Each health coach has access to up-to-date health and medical information from reputable sources and can provide patients with information on virtually any health topic (either on the phone, via the internet, or sent directly to the patient's home in the post.)
Patients calling a health coach will receive:
- Up-do-date information about different conditions
- Support on various treatment options if surgery is being considered
- Information on the risks and benefits of different therapies and treatment options
- Guidance and support on health issues for heart disease, asthma and other chest conditions, diabetes, and many more problems including cancer and long-term conditions such as back pain and arthritis
- Coaching to help patients have better communication with their doctors
- Tools and techniques that will help patients take a more active role in their health care
Dr John Sampson, PEC Chair for Southern Norfolk PCT, said: “The Health Coaches are also able to support families and carers, as well as helping patients manage long-term conditions. However, they will not support specific treatment plans or try to influence people's decisions. They will provide unbiased, evidence-based information and support. This will help patients to work with their doctor in making informed decisions that are appropriate for them.
“It is also important to emphasise that the service and discussions with Health Coaches remains confidential and not disclosed to others.”
The Norfolk Healthline pilot scheme will be evaluated at the end of the pilot period. Patients will be actively encouraged to give their views about the service.