Health Coaching Comes To The Fore In AXA Health Tech & You Awards

In Reverse Innovation In Healthcare Vijay Govindarajan highlights the work of Iora Health.  The healthcare startup have attempted to disrupt healthcare by keeping patients out of hospital whenever possible.  Rather than waiting until patients are unwell and requiring expensive treatment, their service revolves around so called health coaches, who work in the community to do all they can to keep people healthy and well.

“Our Health Coaches are relationship builders between the patients and their care teams,” Iora say. “They are screened and hired for their ability to connect deeply with people because our Health Coaches are more than caregivers.

Suffice to say, they’ve been able to build a healthcare system from the ground up to have coaches as the centrepiece, but for most established providers, they can do nothing but start from where they already are.

Health coaching

Whilst it’s a long way from a system focused upon coaching us towards good health, a pleasing sign of the growing importance of preventative support came via the recent AXA HealthTech & You awards, which had a dedicated category for technologies designed to support lifestyle change.

“The coaching challenge category aims to discover technologies and solutions that can deliver an engaging experience to people who are attempting to change and to motivate them to keep their goals,” AXA say.

Three finalists were announced at the recent awards dinner:

  • RacefullyA connected social fitness platform that enables businesses, charities and other organizations to build active communities.
  • SidekickAn employee wellness platform that combines behavioral economics, gaming technology, artificial intelligence and personal coaching to predict, prevent and manage lifestyle-related diseases.
  • Meal IQA meal planning app that uses AI to help users search, plan and shop for meals suited to individual budgets, food intolerances, macro nutrient targets and taste preferences.

Three interesting startups, but it’s telling that all three are targeting either consumers directly or the corporate wellbeing market.  None felt able to try and reach a mass market via the National Health Service.

A recent report by the King’s Fund underlined this fundamental challenge in getting new innovations into the NHS.  The report suggests that there is no shortage of entrepreneurship in the NHS, but that transferring even simple innovations from one NHS organization to another is incredibly difficult.

“As long as the NHS sets aside less than 0.1 per cent of available resources for the adoption and spread of innovation, a small fraction of the funds available for innovation itself, the NHS’s operating units will struggle to adopt large numbers of innovations and rapidly improve productivity,” the report says.

Of course, it also devotes an equally small amount of its overall budget towards prevention, which suggests that not only will technologies like the three highlighted above struggle to find traction inside the NHS, but the service will struggle to follow the amazing example set by Iora Health.