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Taking on diabetes

Diabetes is a complex condition. Individually, it impacts people in many different ways. After studying public health education and the prevention of chronic disease conditions, Moda Health's Pam Gundrum, MPH, found her passion as a health coach in supporting people in their efforts to better manage and reduce the impact of chronic conditions in their lives.

Pam has embraced the challenge of taking on diabetes because of its prevalence in our society. Hired on to help build Moda's Marketplace Quality Improvement Strategy (MQIS) program, five years ago, she has played a pivotal role in closing gaps of care in Moda's MQIS member population. Of the members she's coached, Moda has seen a 33% increase in those who have completed their recommended screenings, as well as those who see their doctor on a regular basis.

As a telephonic health coach who focuses exclusively on diabetes, she educates and supports Moda members on managing their diabetes condition, some for the very first time.

"It can be very overwhelming to a member, especially if they are newly diagnosed with the condition," she said. "I enjoy the opportunity to help members learn more about diabetes and to empower them on finding ways to make managing their condition less overwhelming. Coaching allows me to support members in their efforts to reduce the impact of diabetes in a way that can improve their overall health and quality of life."

Building trust and rapport

Moda's Diabetes Care program connects members with health coaches for a six-month period. Coaching approximately 75 members at any given time, she spends the majority of her time connecting with members over the phone.

"For some people, talking to a stranger who they don't know or can't see is not very comfortable." she said. "It's important to create a safe space to carry out those personal conversations over the phone in a way that allows me to also establish trust and build positive rapport with members."

Oftentimes, she said the conversations come down to asking basic questions, such as:

  1. Are they checking their blood sugar on a regular basis?
  2. Are they keeping up with their regular appointments with their primary care provider?
  3. Are they taking their medications are prescribed?
  4. Are they keeping active and maintaining health eating habits?
  5. How are they handling stress?
  6. Are they getting quality sleep?

Along with focusing on lifestyle and behavioral changes to support members in getting their diabetes under control, Pam also makes sure they are aware of other resources that are available to them, such as Moda's vendor programs, pharmacy discounts and access to additional assistance from the Customer Service and Health Advocate teams.

The art of health coaching

When it comes to helping people manage their diabetes, Pam said the art of coaching is about meeting the member where they are in their health journey.

"It's about coming alongside them in their journey wherever they are," she said. "It's incredibly rewarding to see the progress and improvements members have made, and continue to make. My goal as a health coach is to empower members in a way that will allow them take control of their diabetes, rather than them being controlled by it."

While Pam has had tremendous success enrolling more members into the program, she said it's the members' success that provides the greatest satisfaction for her as a health coach.

"The ultimate reward is to share in their success as they reflect on the progress they've made," she said. "I enjoy being there to support, applaud and commend them for their hard work and consistent effort to improve their health. For me, that's the sweetness of coaching."

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Moda comes from the latin term "modus" and means "a way". We picked it because that's what we are here to do: help our communities find a way to better health.

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