Interview with health coach and pharmacist Stacy Bennett — part two

November 27, 2013By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy

by Jen Johnston

This is part two of my interview with Stacy Bennett, RPh, CHHC of Health Coach Pharmacist, to talk through how she is incorporating health coaching into her pharmacy practice. I hope this post will give you some ideas of how you can incorporate health coaching into your own pharmacy practice, either by becoming a certified health coach yourself or by partnering with one. You can read about Stacy’s background in part one of this post.

Q. Do you think there is a role for health coaches with medication therapy management (MTM) programs?

A. Absolutely! Medication compliance is more important than ever now that insurers are beginning to restructure reimbursement rates based on patient compliance and outcomes. I would like to see a more holistic approach to MTM, which includes the incorporation of health coaching into MTM programs. I believe there is definitely a place to discuss diet, exercise, relationships, spirituality, and career along with the medication a patient takes on a daily basis. By adding health coaching into the MTM program, it could increase compliance rates exponentially.

Q. Why are health coaches needed at pharmacy? What positive impact can health coaches make on pharmacy patients?

A. Health coaches have a different skill set and knowledge base than pharmacists. A pharmacist can tell you how to treat a yeast infection. A health coach can tell you how to prevent it from happening again.  A pharmacist can recommend a good sleeping pill. A health coach can help you figure out why you aren't sleeping well. A pharmacist can give you a laxative or anti-diarrheal. A health coach can help you figure out what's causing the irritated bowel.

Q. Do you have any first hand experiences with your health coaching helping one of your pharmacy patients?

A. Yes, one of my recent clients was actually a patient of mine at my pharmacy. She had been struggling with throat congestion and was given several different antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, antacids, and allergy medications to relieve the problem. Nine months later, she still suffered. When I took her on as a health coaching client, we took a look at several factors in her diet and lifestyle, incorporated a few changes, and her congestion cleared completely in just two weeks.

Q. Why should a pharmacist consider becoming a health coach?

A. Job satisfaction is a big reason for me.  In retail, often I feel a bit robotic only filling prescriptions day in and day out.  Adding health coaching into my practice helps me play a more active role in a patient's healthcare.

Q. What advice do you have for pharmacists that do not necessarily want to become health coaches, but want to partner with one?

A. I definitely see a place for health coaches in a pharmacy. Most doctors recommend diet and lifestyle changes for their patients before prescribing medications. Unfortunately, they often don't have the time to follow through with those recommendations. Health coaches can be that missing link between recommending the change and instituting that change.

I wish doctors would write prescriptions for thing like “high cholesterol lifestyle change,” that could be taken to a health coach employed by a pharmacy. The health coach would then perform a health history interview and set up regular appointments with the patient either over the phone or in person. The health coach could follow up with the physician after a few sessions with either recommendations for further testing or an additional doctor visit.

And as I mentioned before, I also believe they should be integrated into a thriving MTM program. Patients should see the pharmacist for their primary MTM consult, then the health coach for the longer term follow up.

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