Why Omada is Doubling Down on Human-led Health Coaching
At a time when digital health solutions continue to proliferate and evolve, new industry trends constantly emerge. Companies often take note of changing winds and alter course, trying to keep up with what appears to be cutting edge. One of the latest examples appears to be pivoting away from human-led health coaching in favor of more automation and artificial intelligence.
First, my heart goes out to all of the health coaches across our industry who have been impacted by recent shifts in care models and face uncertainty in employment. We’re all part of the same coaching family, and it hits closer to home when I see colleagues being impacted. I wish them well.
While a set of other companies in our industry are reducing their coaching workforces, we’ve hired 112 new coaches since the start of this year, increasing our roster by 82%. We view our coaches as critical to our members, since they play an instrumental role in driving real, lasting outcomes.
And this isn’t just belief; we have the data to back it up. Our decision to double down on human-led coaching boils down to one thing––it works.
We believe strongly in the coaching model we are building, one that recognizes the power of long-term coaching relationships and invests in guiding members through the process of attainable and sustainable behavior change, one step at a time.
We are always evaluating ways to improve the effectiveness of coaching for our members. This has driven recent investments in our coaching service, such as the new Workflow Dashboard, our Quality Review process within coaching work teams, and the vision we are building with Coach Plays and the Omada Insights Lab, which continues to demonstrate and validate the critical role our coaches play in the behavior change process.
Our clinical specialists guide and support our health coaches with respect to numerous cardiometabolic, musculoskeletal, and behavioral health conditions. By investing in the quality––not just quantity––of our health coaching care, we’re fostering a community of well-rounded coaches who work collaboratively with a network of in-house specialists to provide superior care for our members. In fact, our entire care model is built around strong coach-member relationships.
At Omada, we believe everyone deserves a support system, and so every single member in our cardiometabolic programs is assigned a personal health coach on day one. And they’ll stick with that same coach they come to know through the duration of their care. The emphasis we place on relationships, serving as the foundation of the Omada Care Approach, lies in stark contrast to what appears to be trending in our industry. Fewer health coaches means overburdening staff with impossibly high coach-patient ratios, ultimately diluting the quality of care each member receives. More automation and fewer coaches means less authentic interactions and less relationship building, and we believe that leads to less effective chronic condition care.
We are unequivocally committed to our coaching model. After all, developing a long-term, durable relationship with members is a staple of health coaching. Without a human touch, it’s simply not health coaching.
“It’s more akin to tech support or occasionally guiding members through something,” Carolyn Jasik, Omada’s Chief Medical Officer, told me. “Some other companies claim to have health coaches, but they don't provide enough contact with members to really fit that definition.”
In the near future, we may see more instances of digital health companies cutting back on health coaches and centering more on automation, seeing human care as a cost center to be cut, not a driver of real change in healthcare. This development demonstrates that the work to effectively scale human-centered healthcare is hard. As we all know, the stakes of managing chronic conditions, which impact 133 million Americans, are very high; and they are too high to prioritize short-term cost-cutting and revenue gains over long-term results. Some companies will get it right, and others will get it wrong. At Omada, we’re focused on continuing to build toward our vision for Integrated Virtual Care (IVC) and a care team model that puts members first.
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