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New Evidence Shows Potential of Wellness Programs to Go Beyond Cheerleading

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Congratulations to researchers and NexJ collaborators, Paul Ritvo and Noah Wayne.  Last week, the results of Paul and Noah’s study using NexJ Connected Wellness personal health coaching for Type 2 Diabetes patients were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JIMR).

Representing an early trial using NexJ Connected Wellness to enable personal health coaching, the study examined the effectiveness of using Connected Wellness health coaching for low socio-economic status, Type 2 diabetes patients.  We encourage interested readers to read the full article.  In the meantime, there are a few points of interest that we’d like to draw your attention to:

First, personal health coaching works.  The objective of the study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of Connected Wellness- enabled health coaching for patients having difficulty managing their Type 2 diabetes.  “The clinical goal for self-management of diabetes is an HbA1c of 7.0% or less, although further reductions are preferred. Interventions that reduce HbA1c in elevated risk populations are of significant value in diabetes care.”  Their focus was participants with poorly managed diabetes and a baseline HbA1c>7.0%.  The intervention using Connected Wellness reduced HbA1c levels and demonstrated the clinical relevance of Connected Wellness-enabled health coaching.  The sample group also reduced weight, body mass index and waist circumference. This was an early trial and Connected Wellness is already two versions ahead of what was used for this trial.  NexJ is encouraged by these results.

Second, it works for challenging populations.  Noah and Paul focused on lower socio-economic status because this appears to be the best predictor of health status in Canada and the United States.  People with low socio-economic indicators can experience greater barriers to navigating and accessing health services in Canada and the United States.  They can have more difficulty attending health care appointments.  Their work is often inflexible shift work and they have less access to childcare.  Losing a day’s pay or arranging for childcare can be significant obstacles.  Health coaching with Connected Wellness reduced this barrier by providing 24-hour electronic access to the health coach.   Participants were able to initiate communication when it was possible and convenient for them.

Third, these results would be of interest to large employers with wellness programs. Workplace wellness programs have been a subject of some controversy in recent years.  The premise underlying these programs remains valid – that employers can reduce health care costs, increase workforce productivity, and reduce absenteeism if they can help their employees be healthier.  Many wellness programs to-date have received criticism for being ineffective “check-box” items for HR executives.  Their approach often focuses on delivering generic health information and facilitating some gamification with things like group competitions.  They typically provide minimal personalized and accessible support.  They can feel more like cheerleading than coaching.  As Noah and Paul have shown in their study, personalized health coaching delivered through Connected Wellness has the potential to help employee wellness programs achieve their still valid promise – that healthier employees cost less and get more work done.

Well done on this publication, Paul and Noah!  We’re excited to continue working with you and we can’t wait to see the results of your subsequent studies.