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Health coaching in a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted our way of life. It’s changed the way we shop and socialize, while increasing our levels of stress. Yet, despite most people being in quarantine for more than three months now, our Health Coaching Program hasn’t skipped a beat. Each day, health coaches continue to support members with a variety of health conditions during these uncertain times.

Amy Sommers, a Moda health coach who focuses on stress management, says she’s seeing firsthand how the pandemic is impacting people’s stress levels.

“It’s been a unique opportunity to talk to people about mental health,” she said. “Some people are having a harder time focusing while others are being over-productive. We’re also seeing changes in people’s sleep patterns. Talking to people over the phone has allowed us to look at different ways to help our members manage stress. It’s also allowed us to connect and build trust and rapport with our members.”

Amy is part of Moda’s Health Coaching Program, which is a voluntary service that supports members with common health problems. A variety of care programs focus on areas such as lifestyle, diabetes, weight management, depression and cardiac care. Qualified health and wellness coaches connect with members in person and by phone to understand the type of support they need and give them access to tools and resources that help guide them to better health.

“It’s an interesting balance because health coaching is a collaborative partnership,” she said. “Rather than going to the doctor and being told what to do, we’re here to listen, to be a sounding board, and help guide them to make healthy changes in their lives.”

Stephanie Lossinsky is a Moda health coach who focuses on nutrition. Believing food is medicine, she educates members with different health conditions about food choices to support their health journey. One of the things she’s seeing is a change in people’s regular routines, and how that can lead to stress and anxiety.

It’s interesting when the things we take for granted like shopping and working out at the gym are taken away from us,” she said. “I’ve seen lot of shopping habits change during this pandemic. People are paying more attention to grocery shopping because they don’t want to go out as often. I’ve talked to many members about behavioral shifts that are happening, and how it can increase levels of stress.”

Since the pandemic hit, Moda increased telephone sessions with members from six sessions to 12. While health coaches are connecting with members more, it’s also allowed them to expand the services they provide to their members.

“We’ve realized that during this time of heightened stress, some members would benefit from additional support,” said Amy. “We were really grateful that Moda saw the need to offer additional sessions for those that find it helpful.”

While health coaches also communicate with members by email, talking to people over the phone allows them to reach people in all corners of the state, and beyond. Stephanie has talked with members in Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Illinois.

“What I love about working with members over the phone is the access it provides,” said Amy. “We work with a range of people throughout the state who wouldn’t have the chance to connect with us if it had to be in person. Connecting over the phone makes it possible to help them, especially if location or mobility is a concern.”

Stephanie said it’s important that Moda makes it a priority to offer health coaching services to everyone.

“I’m very passionate about making sure the things we talk about are accessible and available for each member to make it fair and equitable,” she said. “I realize there’s a lot of social injustice out there, so it’s something we are constantly aware of.”

Both health coaches shared the value that health coaching services provide to members, including:

  • Improves health and saves money: Preventive support can influence how often members go to the ER or the type of treatments they need. When members look at their lifestyle and the impact it has on their health, they can make changes to improve their health and wellness.
  • Increases confidence and self-advocacy: Health coaches start by asking members about their activation level. Over time, they say it’s exciting to watch members advocate for themselves because they understand what they need to improve their health.
  • Connecting the dots to health: Our lifestyles have a ripple effect on our health. Connecting the dots to help members understand how their behavior affects their overall health is important, as well as the importance of seeing their provider. Once they have the awareness, they can be proactive about their health.

While the caseloads of Moda’s health coaches have increased during the pandemic, they know they are needed more than ever to connect with members who benefit from their services.

“In the field of healthcare, we have to be adaptable,” said Amy. “During this pandemic, we’re seeing the need for using virtual services to consistently connect with members throughout their health journey. This is something Moda really cares about.”

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We have exciting news to share. ODS is changing its name to Moda Health.

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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