Health coaches can help patients gain knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their chronic conditions. Coaches may be particularly valuable in resource-poor settings, but they are not typically reimbursed by insurance, raising questions about their budgetary impact.The Health Coaching in Primary Care (HCPC) study was a randomized controlled trial that showed health coaches were effective at helping low-income patients improve control of their type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and/or hyperlipidemia at 12 months compared with usual care.We estimated the cost of employing 3 health coaches and mapped these costs to participants. We tested whether the added costs of the coaches were offset by any savings in healthcare utilization within 1 year. Healthcare utilization data were obtained from 5 sources. Multivariate models assessed differences in costs at 1 year controlling for baseline characteristics.Coaches worked an average of 9 hours with each participant over the length of the study. On average, the health coach intervention cost $483 per participant per year. The average healthcare costs for the coaching group was $3207 compared with $3276 for the control group (P = .90). There was no evidence that the coaching intervention saved money at 1 year.Health coaches have been shown to improve clinical outcomes related to chronic disease management. We found that employing health coaches adds an additional cost of $483 per patient per year. The data do not suggest that health coaches pay for themselves by reducing healthcare utilization in the first year.
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View details for PubMedID 27143350