Personal Medical Coach Wanted

on 04 20, 2009

Are you a health care professional who’s tired of treating as many patients as possible in 15 minute intervals? Are you looking to make a difference, the way you always wanted to? Can you write scripts and order tests as you see fit? Then perhaps you have a future as a personal medical coach.

An undiagnosed patient for more than 20 years, I have a complex case with overlapping symptoms.  Like many patients in my situation, I’ve seen over 100 doctors, and made some progress in managing some of my symptoms, but am still living with a painful, disabling condition.  I have starting to realize that perhaps the only way I’m going to find a diagnosis is to hire a personal medical coach to sit down with me and help explore my options –  or at least let me know what I’m working with.

My intention is to get better at any cost. And rather than continuing to pay doctors who either turf me, hand me a placebo diagnosis, call a zebra a horse, recommend I see a psychologist, tell me to go search the Internet or simply say I should give up – that I’ve run out of options, I would rather pay a health care professional a reasonable hourly rate out of pocket.

Here are some ways that I could see a health care professional making a living as a personal medical coach:

  • Project management – Taking a project management approach is empowering for patients and efficient for problem solving. Services could include conducting an assessment of the current situation including documenting signs and symptoms, quality of life, review of records, summarizing previous tests & treatments; setting objectives, goals and tasks, identifying resources and setting timelines; writing recommendations / summary notes for other doctors; ordering tests, imaging and scrips as medically necessary.
  • Access to information – As someone without a medical license, I am either not allowed access to some health information databases, or the cost is prohibitive for me to pay for a subscription when I will be the only one using it. Simply providing information from these databases on request from researching patients would be an easy way to attract clients.
  • Research – For those who don’t speak the lingo, having a medical professional who is willing to research symptoms and potential diagnoses is a wide ray of light in the surrounding darkness.
  • Supervision of care – Developing a plan of care by comparing current recommendations or orders from other doctors against best practices, current thought, recent breakthroughs, available technologies, etc. could give patients the strategic advantage they need for improved health.For example, it took me a long time to find out that the quality of an MRI varies greatly depending on the type of machinery a facility has. Or I had a doctor order an important test that I wouldn’t be able to physically handle. I finally found out that he had ordered an older kind of test, and the new one was much more tolerable. If I had had someone available who could have pointed these things out, I would have been saved a lot of money, time and heartache…
  • Coordinating care between doctors — Recently I took a trip to L.A., along with my sister who is also chronically ill, to see some of the best doctors in the country at Cedars Sinai and UCLA. We got excellent guidance from these doctors, who recommended specific courses of action including certain tests. They wrote detailed reports and provided them to our primary care physicians and specialists in our home town.Unfortunately, our physician was unwilling to order the tests because she “wouldn’t be able to interpret the results”, and no testing facility would accept an order from an out-of-state doctor. All we need is someone locally to order the tests, but as yet we remain in limbo.
  • Bedside advocacy – Your presence as  a facilitator and advocate, when a hospital or long term care patient is too weak, medicated or confused to assert themselves on their own behalf, could be invaluable to patients, their loved ones, and health care staff.Your presence as an unofficial third party, representing the interests of the patient as a coach by organizing and providing documentation including a plan of care, insurance, living will or do not resuscitate order, and communicating with the patient and loved ones about what is happening in terms of their care, could alleviate a great deal of stress, reduce the possibility of expensive mistakes or unnecessary tests, and contribute to the recovery of the patient.
  • Integrative medicine – Combining knowledge of alternative, Eastern and traditional medicine to support patients that are open to all possibilities is a growing field, and inspiring many to get into wellness coaching. As a personal medical coach, you may find the freedom to explore these integrative approaches, or work with wellness coaches who are not licensed physicians.
  • Providing health insurance – This may be a little out there, but it seems to me that if you were able to provide an affordable group health insurance plan to your clients, you’d have a lot more clients… I know that some hospitals and medical centers are starting to offer their own insurance – perhaps this would be an option for medical coaches as well.

I’m not sure how realistic it is to suggest that a doctor opt to work as a consultant rather than in a practice. I’m sure there is a system in place that works well enough to keep attracting doctors to play in the same disharmonious orchestra. But I can’t help but think that there must be some doctors who are considering retirement, graduating from medical school and considering their options, looking for a change or are themselves disabled, who would find a consultant’s life appealing.

Certainly the idea of a private doctor has been around for a long time… Perhaps it’s finally time to be able to make a living providing that level of service to the masses who desperately need it.

Comments (5)

 

  1. Dr. Joseph says:

    I would be interested to hear what has happened to you and see if I can help.

    Dr. Joseph
    Family Practice

  2. Simone says:

    I am in the process of starting a home based service such as this. An overall patient advocate and diagnosis consultant/coach. I would like to speak with you.

  3. Pamela says:

    I am Board Certified in Integrative Medicine, an acupuncturist, and a member of Harvard’s Post Graduate Association. I try to have a very balanced approach to healthcare. I love a challenge!! I do have a virtual office, with a network of several physician’s. This was created exactly for this purpose. We are able to consult each other, and You, the patient.
    If You would like more information, email me at pmckimie@gmail.com.

    Hope to here from you soon!!

  4. Michele Phillips says:

    I have recovered from a 8 year battle with a undiagnosed pituitary tumor. I have the education and the passion to advocate for patients that are too ill or too devastated to fight for wellness. I have just begun searching for avenues I can assist others. Please contact me.

  5. Ellen says:

    Hi Michele…

    Thank you very much for contacting me, and I am glad to hear that you finally got diagnosed, properly treated, and have recovered. You must have worked hard as your own advocate to get so far!

    Please consider contacting In Need of Diagnosis (INOD.org) to find out about how you can help others on similar journeys (I am the vice president of INOD.) In addition, if you haven’t already, please sign my petition to create World Undiagnosed Day (it is on the home page of my website).

    I hope we will have a chance to work together to make things easier for undiagnosed patients.

    Ellen

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