When the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was founded nearly 30 years ago, the concept of health coaching was new and unknown. Recognizing the need for a more integrative and holistic approach to health, IIN’s founder Joshua Rosenthal laid the foundation for the ever-growing Health Coach market by giving consumers the opportunity to not only work with a Health Coach as part of their greater healthcare team, but become one themselves.
Health Coaches in healthcare
IIN recognized the critical need for an overhaul to the healthcare system – a health revolution. Preventable chronic lifestyle conditions are on the rise despite the increasing understanding of the impacts of diet and lifestyle on health. Healthcare costs continue to rise. Meanwhile, doctors spend less time with patients to understand their full health histories and are ill-equipped to handle the rising prevalence of nutrition- and lifestyle-related conditions. The role of a Health Coach was born out of the necessity to bridge the gap between patients and effective healthcare, providing individualized support and a more holistic understanding of how to nourish our bodies and minds.
The healthcare industry continues to recognize the importance of Health Coaches in spaces traditionally only filled by physicians, which gives the health coaching profession and the Health Coach industry a boost in credibility. Studies have shown that Health Coaches can help improve health outcomes in patients with lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes and hyperlipidemia.
The value of the Health Coach profession
From working in private practice to advising public health initiatives, Health Coaches spark crucial changes that improve health and happiness. There is important work happening in the field that will allow Health Coaches to continue forging their path in healthcare and set themselves up as well-respected practitioners, including work IIN is doing at the local and federal levels to increase awareness of the health coaching profession, such as aligning with members of Congress to bring about improvements in policy that impact Health Coaches and connecting with organizations, such as the Veterans Association, to promote holistic health education.
As the industry has grown, so has the value and credibility of the Health Coach profession. Just as nutritionists and dietitians forged their way to become go-to experts and practitioners in diet and nutrition, Health Coaches are similarly establishing an industry with gold-standard practices and requirements.
With more opportunities for Health Coaches to practice, the need to standardize their education and credentialing is key, which the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) has successfully implemented. Their approval of a health coaching program demonstrates to the marketplace that they have deemed said curriculum as rigorous and up to their standards of what Health Coaches should learn, from instructional guidance to the evaluation of practical skill development.
In addition to certification requirements, insurance coverage of health coaching services is another step in legitimizing the value of the Health Coach profession. As insurance coverage varies widely from state to state, as well as around the world, standardization of coverage for health coaching services will certainly be a hurdle – but one that is worth the leap.
Category III CPT codes through the American Medical Association went into effect in 2020, which was a successful effort by the NBHWC and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Health Coaches working in healthcare settings who have access to medical billing-and-tracking software through their employers are the primary users of these Category III CPT health and wellness coaching codes. With sufficient data collected and studied from the use of these codes, the transition into a permanent code will indicate a reimbursable service.
Growth of the health coaching industry
Increased acceptance of the telehealth and telemedicine model, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has opened many doors for Health Coaches to apply their services virtually, such as through physician’s office portals or various apps offering virtual health coaching. With the majority of Health Coaches completing their training online and learning how to showcase their expertise and connect with their communities virtually, telehealth is the perfect medium for Health Coaches to maximize their value and reach more people than ever before.
From medical centers and wellness spas to health technology firms and lifestyle apps, Health Coaches with a credible education are in high demand. Employers are increasingly discerning of a Health Coach’s credentials, which is why IIN has worked to ensure its graduates are set up for success to be seen as the top in their field and the top choice of employers in the marketplace.
During the pandemic, many people realized the acute importance of taking care of not only their physical health but also their emotional, mental, and financial well-being. With the health coaching market projected to be worth $7 billion, there is no shortage of opportunities for Health Coaches to find people who need support in finding balance in all areas of their lives.
IIN is dedicated to continuing to advance the health coaching profession through its educational programs and advocacy efforts, furthering its mission to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness around the world, one Health Coach at a time.