Talk about follow-up healthcare
Employers and insurance firms are providing 'health coaches' to help workers manage and prevent illnesses.
About every two weeks, Joel Tucker, 46, gets a call from a fairly new acquaintance, Debbie, who politely asks about his health and offers some suggestions for how Tucker can better manage his diabetes.
Rather than be annoyed by the intrusion, Tucker says he's delighted with the phone calls. "It's like talking to my sister," he says.
Debbie is actually a registered nurse, one among dozens under contract to Tucker's employer, UPS. The nurses look through claims data to find employees who have, or are at risk for, chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and cancer. They then contact the workers to offer medical assistance — advice-laden brochures, tips for remembering to take medication, or help finding a doctor or a clinical trial for a specific condition.
Some Americans might be reluctant to hand over private information to someone who works for their employer or to let their insurer know they may not be controlling their health problems. But not Tucker, nor his colleague Rita Sexton, who speaks to Faye, another nurse who coaches UPS employees, once a month about her diabetes.
Having Faye "is like having a personal trainer," the Chicago woman says. "For example, Faye reminds me to check in with the eye doctor and the foot doctor." And, because Sexton has given her written consent, test results are sent to the nurse, who then explains the blood work and recently congratulated Sexton on lower cholesterol levels.
"It's nice to have a lot more information and time spent with you than just your doctor's regular appointment," Sexton says.