Nicole McHenry is a registered nurse and recipient of the first-ever Twine Health Coaching Excellence Award in June 2016. Nicole works in the University of Pennsylvania Health System's Penn Center for Innovation. I spoke with her about her experience coaching through Twine.
TWINE: What was your initial assumption about how this program would be different compared to what it’s been like?
NICOLE MCHENRY: I was afraid that I was going to have to change who I was, and do I have what it takes to be a health coach? do I even know what that means? And I’m going to have to be somebody that I’m not? Versus what it really is is the complete opposite, I’m just going to talk to these people like normal, like they are normal patients, colleagues, friends, family and I find that that works, my colleagues appreciate that.
T: What's the experience like for new patients that join the program?
N: When a new patient joins the program we give them a care package, with a blood pressure cuff, medication, and lifestyle modifications we’re working on.
I try to reassure them that with time and effort on both parts we can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke heart attack and kidney disease. I explain to them how Twine works and with that we are fortunate to sort of be in constant contact with each other. I like to remind them that 90% of Americans aged 55 to death will develop hypertension thus they are not alone. I really just try to let them know we will absolutely try our best to lower the BP readings while making them feel cared for. I tell them that hypertension clinic is our favorite day of the week and the whole team really enjoys it.
T: What would you suggest to someone who is new to coaching in an organization that might not have done this before?
N: I would also say, though easier said than done, to just be yourself, just be who you are. You are involved with this for a reason, so just go with that. Keep that reason, and stay true to yourself while providing good care for your patients.
I’ll tell you what makes it easier though, is meeting them. That first visit is like 45 minutes and you really truly get a sense for what kind of person they are and how you are going to interact with them.
T: What advice would you give to health systems that are thinking about offering this kind of program to their employees?
N: The patients love it. I think they feel cared for by their employer, and I also think that it makes them feel like we are all one. I think it’s a great thing to offer your employees and i think it’s important to have the right approach. I truly think it’s important to have a multidisciplinary team, and I think that that is what makes this successful. Having different people with different life experiences makes us all relatable and makes the patient feel more comfortable, in turn more engaged.
T: Do you ever tell patients, as a way to encourage them, the outcomes you’ve gotten?
N: I do. In our new patient visits I do try to sneak in the stats, like the average primary care practice drops blood pressure points 10 points in 12 months or whatever and we are dropping them 10 points in 3 months. I do emphasize our success rates.
T: Do you think that the employees that are patients recognize a difference in how care is being delivered here?
N: Definitely. A lot of people said in our survey that it makes them feel like their employer cares about them. Another question said ‘How likely are you to recommend this to another employee?’ The [net promoter] score was 100. Everyone gave it a 10, which never happens
I think a combination of the great multi disciplinary team we have here including Mike and Megan from the innovation center, Dr. Rusk our medical director and Donna Donia our medical assistant but really our go to for everything person, and staying in touch with patients at the very least weekly through Twine helps make each patient feel cared for in a more personal manner.
T: Do you have any patient experiences that you think exemplifies this whole experience?
N: One patient was just completely uneducated about everything. She came in with a high blood pressure and we educated her. She gave us every excuse in the book, ‘I don’t want to go to the pharmacy, I don’t have the money’. We had answers to every question and now she’s an easy patient with normal blood pressure.
What I like most about working with Twine is that I finally feel close to my patients again. I was nervous about if I was actually helping people and now I see the numbers and I know that I am helping people.