Leading a health revolution takes passionate and committed people in many different types of professions. At the center of Vera’s healthcare model is empathetic listening. Our Vera Whole Health coaches play a vital part in improving patient lives. Working as an embedded member of the primary care team, they are powerful partners for patients who want to be healthier, but aren’t exactly sure how to get there.
Meet Ivan, Vera Whole Health Coach
Ivan Rosemblatt is a Vera Whole Health Coach at Amy’s Kitchen, where he works with employees to help guide them through each step of behavior change to actively control their health and meet their goals.
“I have worked previously as an interpreter [and] would travel to different hospitals. There are plenty of healthcare providers out there who are empathetic, who have a philosophy of empathy,” he says.
The difference as part of the Vera team, however, is that our Vera health coaches are given the resources they need to guide real change in their patients’ behavior. This includes an immersive training and onboarding process that covers empathetic listening and the transtheoretical behavior change model.
Health coaching itself, used in conjunction with medical treatment and advice from the primary care provider, is a great tool to use that empathy in a productive and powerful way.
“I think that including coaching in the model … is a correct perspective for promoting health,” Ivan says.
Challenges in health coaching
Our Vera health coaches are an integral and embedded part of the primary care team, trained to focus on whole patient health. That means going beyond the symptoms and looking at underlying issues, including negative social determinants of health, patient obstacles, and any gaps in knowledge or understanding.
At Ivan’s workplace, health education and language barriers pose a challenge, along with income, which “plays a big part in terms of food choices and availability,” he says. Some have varying social support networks to lean on, like church, family, or other groups, but many are on their own. In addition, health risks at the company are very high.
“We deal with massive amounts of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It’s just through the roof.”
This is where the Vera health coach’s rigorous training and empathetic listening come in, and why it’s such a vital part of the Vera care process. When patients feel heard, it “leads to a sense of relaxation and trust.
A great deal of the health issues we have right now are psychosocial in nature, and it has to do with people’s support systems, their sense of isolation, their sense of purpose, things like this — and simply having someone express genuine concern can do a great deal to help them change behaviors.”
Ivan believes that “the leadership structure [at Amy’s Kitchen] is committed to following through on the mission statement” and making health a part of the company culture. As a Vera health coach, Ivan is perfectly positioned to effect change.
Guiding behavior change and better outcomes
The goal for a Vera health coach is to help patients live better lives and make healthier choices. Working each day with a population sharing many of the same social determinants, stressors, environmental factors, health risks, and vulnerabilities means that Ivan has a valuable opportunity to improve health throughout the company, both at an individual level and at scale.
He describes a recent success with a patient who was very resistant to making lifestyle changes: “We were discussing diabetes, and it’s tough because it requires you to change your diet forever. I put myself in their shoes and acknowledged that was a difficult situation to be in.
“Adapting our communication. That's something that we're able to do — searching for the right materials that communicate clearly and simply, always making sure we’re defining our terms, and speaking in a way that ensures the patient is understanding us.”
In this way, Vera health coach and patient were able to better connect and come up with ways to implement behavior changes that felt practical and doable.
Soon, the patient, who had before been reluctant to pay any attention to advice about improving their habits and diet, surprised Ivan and his colleagues. “The next time we saw them,” Ivan says, “they’d made some really amazing shifts.”
Working for Vera
For Ivan and his patients, the Vera primary care model is an excellent way to bring healthcare into the workplace and make it more accessible and engaging. The best part, he believes, is “having a time-rich environment, having an organization that is really patient-centered, and a responsive management.”
But “people,” Ivan says, “are the linchpin for our success.”
There’s no question that health coaching takes dedication, compassion, and a desire to help others improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Luckily for us, we have people like Ivan on our side in the health revolution.