This year PCA EMBARKed on an effort with CCAR to empower our Colorado Recovery Communities. It seems clear that our systems are overburdened with all the issues confronting our state. The opioid epidemic with the catastrophic numbers of overdoses with family supports being left in the wind. Alcohol remains a huge and costly issue, not to mention the side effects of legal cannabis being seen in our youth. Embark specifically provides access to a network of recovery coach training delivered locally.
Essentially, we have come to accept that 9 out of 10 individuals with a diagnosable substance use disorder will not get help. Ostensibly we have come to accept that these individuals will keep showing up at our emergency rooms, physician offices and our intensive care units driving the cost of healthcare through the roof.
If we could engage even 20% more of this group, we could dramatically reduce costs. It has been clearly established that healthcare costs drop by as much as 40% when individuals with substance use disorders are receiving some type of specialty AOD “help”
The second area of great impact would be intervening with the “risky” group described above. Through evidence-based interventions and a new health coaching model, we could identify and engage this population and promote a healthy lifestyle. This could be thought of as tertiary prevention rather than treatment and the return on investment would be substantial. Much can be done with this group through strategic and brief interventions. For example, in a federal study, a group of at-risk alcohol users who received brief coaching recorded 20 percent fewer emergency department visits and 37 percent fewer days of hospitalization.
Although contemporary medicine has made many breakthroughs and powerful advances, it still remains primarily a disease management system. A focus on acute care and discrete periods of treatment have proven to be insufficient. However, there is a new paradigm emerging with an emphasis on wellness, prevention, and ongoing care. The discipline of health coaching is a growing reality within the continuum of care. Duke University describes health coaching in the following ways:
Health coaching is the missing link in our current health care system.
Health coaching is a new paradigm of care that defines success not as more procedures and tests, but as better patient engagement and outcomes
Health coaching empowers clients to make lasting health behavior changes that are the cornerstones of lifelong well-being
Health coaching bridges the gap between medical recommendations and patients’ abilities to successfully implement those recommendations into their complex lives.