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What is a Health Coach?

inHealth | May 7, 2020

Health and wellness have always been important and now take on new meaning amid COVID-19. While most of us know intuitively what health means, we may not be as familiar with the term “health coach.”

Which begs the question: what exactly is a health coach?

Health Coach: A Definition

At inHealth, we define a health coach as someone who is trained and certified to help individuals achieve their health goals by providing medical-grade, science-based information, encouragement and support. By our definition, coaches apply a holistic approach to one’s health, helping patients understand the root cause of their condition or conditions and giving them the tools and motivation to make long-lasting change. 

Every patient is unique and health coaches recognize that a “one-size-fits-all" approach is not an effective way for people to achieve and sustain their health goals.

Health coaches will typically have a framework or foundation to base treatment plans on, but what makes health coaching special is that the patient is in the driver’s seat. The coaches are there to be a supportive mentor and empower the patient to achieve their goals, but patients are the ones making choices and navigating their path.

How Health Coaches Differ from Clinicians

Health coaches are different from doctors. Doctors are more focused on diagnosis and treatment of that specific diagnosis. A health coach will instead focus on the wholeness of that person, not merely the condition or goal. They will work closely with the patient to understand their desires, limitations and current behaviors and habits before coming up with a treatment plan.

Health coaches unlock a patient’s potential to heal themselves by focusing on what they CAN do and not what they MUST do. For example, at inHealth, our health coaches use a seven-pillar framework to come up with a lifestyle treatment plan that includes diet, fitness, spirituality, and other aspects of a person’s whole health and life. In the first phase of lifestyle treatment, patients and their health coach assess which pillar or pillars they can impact most and start there. Patients gradually develop confidence in reaching their goals and may add additional pillars along the way. In doing so, patients activate and sustain new behaviors and routines that lead to life-long outcomes.

How Health Coaches Help Clinicians

While health coaches differ from clinicians, they are a great complement to traditional chronic care. In addition to partnering closely with individuals to set health goals and achieve them, clinical health coaches like those at inHealth become part of the patient’s care team, working as a partner with treating physicians and keeping them informed about their patient’s progress. Patients have access to a coach between traditional doctor visits, keeping them engaged and strengthening their relationships with the whole care team.  

In times where a doctor may be unavailable or there is a shortage of available doctors – in-person or over telehealth – health coaches can also act as a frontline defense, effectively triaging care and supporting patients with non-emergent needs.

About inHealth Health Coaches

Our coaches are registered nurses, registered dietitians and clinical care nutritionists that are dedicated to creating meaningful relationships and true accountability with their patients. Every coach is certified by the NCCA, considered to be the gold-standard for credentialing agencies.  

For more information on our health coaches, go here.


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