For this #PackChat, we’re sitting down again with Tamara Wilson, one of our Senior Health Advisors here at Pack Health. Tamara recently went through the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Master Trainer Certification through Emory University. In Part 1 of this Pack Chat, Tamara shared what it means to be a DPP Master Trainer, how she’s using this certification at Pack Health, and how she sees lifestyle coaching benefitting the healthcare landscape in the state of Alabama. Part 2 of the conversation dives a little deeper on our Health Advisor training process, the Diabetes Prevention Program, and American Diabetes Awareness Month.
INTERVIEWER: So, you’ve told us about the training process for new lifestyle coaches, but what is the process like for training Pack Health’s Health Advisors? Digital health coaching is a relatively new approach to healthcare. How do you train new HA’s to develop this innovative mindset?
TAMARA WILSON: Patient engagement has been an ongoing challenge in healthcare, which impacts patient outcomes. If those outcomes aren’t improving, it is evident that there is some miscommunication between the patients and the providers. Here at Pack Health, we move away from the traditional idea of the healthcare provider being the expert each individual patient. Instead, we delve into this theory that the member, or the patient, is the expert on themselves. With this philosophy, it is essential that our HA’s know how to effectively engage members to learn more about their health.
INTERVIEWER: Can you give me an example of what that engagement training looks like?
TAMARA: For sure! We teach our Health Advisors the foundation of motivational interviewing as the overarching method of communication with members. This approach is founded upon the concept that the member inherently knows what is best for themselves. Remember, they’re the expert on “them”. Motivational interviewing is inquisitive, affirming, and non-judgemental, so it helps Health Advisors asks the questions that need to be asked and helps the member identify what they really want to do to reach their goals. Using this method, we focus on their strengths and channel their intrinsic motivators to change behavior.
INTERVIEWER: That’s truly a member-focused approach! I’m interested to know what do you enjoy most about training new Health Advisors?
TAMARA: I really enjoy training new HA’s simply because they are always so enthusiastic, passionate, and eager to change healthcare. HA’s are very responsive to the process because they understand the severity of the current healthcare status and recognize that there is a need for change. HA’s know that establishing a relationship with members is an important aspect. We create a partnership where we accept the person and display compassion. The collaboration component really sets the tone and makes a huge impact!
INTERVIEWER: It is so awesome that our HA’s can make such a change in member’s lives. Tying DPP and HA training together a bit, Pack Health has recently started offering members the ability to enroll in its Diabetes Prevention Program. Can you tell me a little more about that?
TAMARA: Our program is a little different from the standard DPP. The standard program consists of a small group that meets in-person once a week over the span of a year. Pack Health differs itself by introducing a digital health approach to this program. We focus on individual members one-on-one as well as particular members enroll in our rolling admission. Rolling admission means that they can elect to enroll in the DPP at any time during their journey. This allows us to reach even more people at any given time. Fun fact — Pack Health is the only fully online DPP program recognized by the CDC in the state of Alabama!
INTERVIEWER: Wow! That’s impressive. The digital approach does offer the benefit of convenience since participants don’t actually have to live in the area. I can imagine that there are endless possibilities regarding the number of people you can impact with the digital program. Who exactly is eligible to participate?
TAMARA: Great question! There are two primary requirements members must meet to participate in the program. First, a person can determine their eligibility by completing the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Pre Diabetes Risk Assessment Test. The test was specifically designed to take into account several factors, including a family history of diabetes and hypertension, physical activity, weight, and body mass index (BMI). BMI is a qualifier; anything higher than 25 places a person at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The second way a person can participate is through the results of a glucose test. Members can get a glucose test conducted by their primary healthcare provider to determine their A1c, a three-month average of blood sugar levels. If a person falls into the range of 5.7 through 6.4, then they are considered to be at risk for diabetes. In addition to the criteria mentioned above, you have to be at least 18 years of age. Since this is a weight loss program, you also cannot be pregnant during the time of the program. You are not eligible to participate if you have already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes by a doctor.
INTERVIEWER: Good to know. So to wrap this up, I’m sure you know November is American Diabetes Awareness month! Do you have any plans to bring more awareness to members and the community?
TAMARA: As one of the cardiometabolic team leaders, I think it’s essential to raise awareness during American Diabetes Month. There can never be too much education; here are a few things we teach our members.
It is critical to know your numbers! I’m referring to blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI. Establish a concrete routine for checking blood sugar and make sure you and your doctor are one the same page. Patients should also educate themselves on what medications they’re taking, why they’re taking it, and how it’s to be taken. Being comfortable with medications increases medication adherence and reduces health threats.
Sometimes, incidents happen. That is why patients should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. They should know the difference and what actions to take once they identify the signs. Eye and foot care is also something we encourage our members to keep tabs on. Be sure to make appointments with an optometrist, podiatrist, or a primary care provider to make sure things are going well.
Thanks for tuning into this two-part series with Tamara Wilson, Senior Health Advisor and Diabetes Prevention Program Master Trainer. To get more articles and perspectives sent to your inbox, fill out the form to the right!