During the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen a doubling in engagement with our remote health coaching.
CoachMe’s patients are essential workers. They’re the janitors and construction workers. They’re the people who are still going to work and putting themselves at risk. They don’t have remote work opportunities, which means that if they’re not at work, they’re staying home with a loss of income.
There’s a patient whom I’m personally coaching. She worked at a restaurant and lost her job the first week of the pandemic and was at home with her family. I helped her identify some new physical activity options, which included doing Zumba with her grandchildren. They started calling her the “fun grandmother.” So it was gratifying for her and helped her reduce stress, find joy, and manage her diabetes.
I founded CoachMe because I saw the gap in the disparities that are at the heart of health equity. In the U.S., those who are low-income face a 10- to 15-year gap in life expectancy from those who are high-income. A significant amount of that gap is driven by health-related behaviors like diet, exercise, and lifestyle. CoachMe is focused on scaling health coaching — a proven way to build healthy behaviors — to people who are uninsured and on Medicaid.
During COVID-19, being patient-first means adapting to the needs that are emerging related to chronic diseases. We’ve done more coaching focused on mental health and reducing stress, because 20% of patients are experiencing mental health challenges. We’re also connecting people to resources in their communities, since they have fewer work opportunities. About 40% are struggling with financial concerns, like paying the rent, and we’ve connected many to rent relief. We’ve seen how the strain of the crisis affects patients far beyond the virus itself.
Current data shows that Hispanics, which make up a large percentage of our patients, are acquiring COVID-19 at unusually high rates. Minority populations also are more likely to have more severe levels of chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, which afflicts 34 million Americans. We know how to manage and reduce the effects of diabetes, so our focus is on delivering solutions to those who need it most.
As we all struggle to respond to the pandemic, I’m grateful to be taking steps to create a more equitable world. I get to do that for my job, every day. It’s a true gift and something I don’t take for granted.
— Told to Steve Goldbloom