By Kathy Kunath, RN
Training and Partner Relations
Clinical Health Coach
Health coaches and/or the use of health coaching skills is an effective way to address and support the newly released collaborative document, “Shared Principles of Primary Care”. Population-based health coaching, grounded in the science of behavior change, directly supports each patient and their family to make (and sustain) health decisions that are in line with their values and motivations. Health coaches serve as a consistent and accessible resource for patients, developing a trusting relationship that spans over time and health events. Coaching conversations are valuable for establishing an individualized plan of care that becomes a blueprint for the healthcare team and the patient. Coaches identify patient needs proactively and reduce avoidable and high cost emergent care. Health coaching combined with best practice guidelines and care management is a key strategy in moving the Shared Principles from a document of ideal characteristics to actionable care that is well received by patients and promotes healthcare in line with their unique social culture and circumstances.
Primary care has undergone several transitions (and sometimes transformations) to encourage healthcare delivery that is more patient-centered, accessible and of higher safety and quality. The original “Joint Principles”, developed in 2007 by four physician organizations, shifted the focus from physician-centered to more individualized, person-centered and coordinated care, led by a patient’s personal physician. These principles served as a unifying set of guidelines and characteristics for the emerging medical home programs and became the foundation for later standards as adopted by several healthcare accreditation organizations.
Since 2007, primary care has continued to evolve in its role as the central coordinator of healthcare for patients and families. It acknowledges the importance of expanded accessibility and sensitivity to the many social determinants that impact an individual’s health on a daily basis. A collaborative and multi-stakeholder group was convened in 2017 to update the Joint Principles to address these additional characteristics. Lead by the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), the “Shared Principles of Primary Care” were formally announced at PCPCC’s Annual Meeting in October. To date, 275 organizations have signed on to this document, creating incentive for widespread adoption of the Principles.
The updated Shared Principles include care that is:
- Person & Family Centered
- Comprehensive and Equitable
- Team-Based and Collaborative
- Coordinated and Integrated
Health coaching encompasses each of these concepts when fully implemented into primary care practice settings.