Becker’s Spine Review recently released an article about recruiting a Health Coach, featuring information provided by our own Scott Anderson, COO of Prairie Spine & Pain Institute in Peoria, Ill.
Health coaches can become an important part of building a comprehensive integrated spine and pain management practice where patients receive conservative, functional and interventional therapies. A health coach must be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) to receive reimbursement for their services, which include coordinating patient care and helping them to achieve self-care management
In many communities, it can be difficult to recruit a good LCSW for your program. “It’s not easy to find the right person to become a health coach at your practice,” says Scott Anderson, COO of Prairie Spine & Pain Institute in Peoria, Ill. “This is especially true if you are in a smaller market.” Here, Mr. Anderson discusses how to recruit a health coach for your practice.
1. Let them know they’ll see the patient first.
In traditional care programs, a social worker is often brought into cases as a last resort after other clinical therapies and when other treatments have failed, leaving patients frustrated with their care. In this integrated care delivery model, the LCSW working as your integrated care program “Health Coach” should be the first person to see the patient and work with them throughout their care at your facility.
“When you present this integrated care program to the LCSW and describe how they will be the first in the delivery of care to see the patient, that’s like nirvana to them because they are usually the last person to see pain patients,” says Mr. Anderson. “The key concept here is we want the health coach to coordinate care for patients so they will be the first person patients see and they’ll have a very positive role in the patient’s care. When recruiting, these concepts will make all the difference in the world.”
2. Write your program out.
Before aggressively recruiting for a health coach, write the health coach program out so candidates can see what their role will be within the practice. Begin with a checklist of responsibilities for program development and then build the actual program from that outline.
“When people come in for the interview, they want to see the program’s big picture and overall clinical design,” says Mr. Anderson. “They want to know you have thought it out and know what you are doing.”
3. Be prepared with a compensation plan.
As you move further in the recruiting process, candidates will want to know about their potential compensation. “Compensation can be all over the board, but LCSW are not unlike any other healthcare provider in that they are looking for a base with production bonus depending on their activity,” says Mr. Anderson. “If you are seeing 50 new patients in a month, this person will be full time in very short order.”
Mr. Anderson says the benchmark for base salary could be $65,000 to $85,000 in addition to production bonuses based on practice location. The practice is reimbursed around $30 per 15 minutes of time, and patients will likely have hour-long sessions with the health coach.
4. Make sure they know their role in the practice.
Tell health coach candidates upfront about their place within the practice. After giving them the program outline and compensation model, make sure they know they’ll be an integral part in patient care.
“Show them how you want the health coach to be a piece of the care program that really makes a difference in the patient’s life,” says Mr. Anderson. “If you can show them that, you’ll be able to recruit easily. Without this person involved upfront as part of the overall plan, you won’t have the same outcomes; but when you have this person involved, everyone’s outcomes improve.”
5. Provide a nice environment for the heath coach.
You can’t expect a LCSW or other behavioral specialist to feel important if you stick them in a small office in the back of the building. Instead, make sure they have a bright space at the front of the practice where patients feel comfortable meeting with them.
“The environment you create for health coaches to work in makes a big difference for recruiting them,” says Mr. Anderson. “If you put them in a treatment room in the back of the office, it doesn’t work. You have to create a special environment for this person to chat with the patient. The patient should want to be there.”
In the past, Mr. Anderson has included big comfortable chairs, plants and other elements to the health coach’s office to create a conversational environment. “At Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, we have started construction on a new 3,000 square-foot addition to the practice which will allow us to create a unique environment for our ‘Quality of Life’ program to complement our current medical group offerings,” says Mr. Anderson. “Dr. Richard Kube — an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon — has made this commitment to patient care as he truly believes in providing an ‘integrated care’ environment for his patients.”
6. Create a strategic recruitment plan.
Many times, physicians can use their connections to recruit other physicians to the practice, but many don’t have strong connections to behavioral specialists, so recruiting heath coaches can be extra difficult. Practice administrators can do a reverse resume search on engine sites like www.careerbuilder.com. They can also obtain a list of LCSW’s from their state licensing office and then send direct mailing letters their way.
Source: www.beckersorthopedicandspine.com; Laura Miller; June 6, 2012.