Friday, December 16, 2011

Integrating wellness coaching into patient care at the APF

REACHING GOALS: Sherman consults with patients to address their wellness needs.

Watching reality shows on television, it would be easy to believe that the only way to be healthy is to spend hours a day in a gym with a personal trainer barking at you. But Ryan Sherman knows that what’s on television isn’t always reality – and for most, the key to living healthy is setting realistic goals and working hard to achieve them.

Sherman is the wellness coach for the Ambulatory Practice of the Future (APF), an innovative primary care practice for MGH employees and their insured spouses or domestic partners. He works with APF patients – free of charge – to help them develop healthier nutrition and exercise habits.

“My focus really is whatever the patient wants it to be. The patient is the driver. I never tell patients what they should be doing,” says Sherman, who has a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology and is a registered clinical exercise physiologist. “Instead, I help them figure out what fits their life.”

APF patients interested in working with Sherman fill out an assessment and usually meet with him in person to talk about their lifestyle, goals and what routines will fit into their schedules. From there, Sherman checks in with the patients by phone twice per month to give encouragement and help make any adjustments to the plan if needed.

“I am currently coaching 50 patients. On average, those patients who have completed three months of coaching have met 95 percent of their goals and have lost around 12 pounds,” he says.

David Judge, MD, medical director of the APF, is enthusiastic about the early results of the coaching program. “The integration of coaching into the patient’s care at the APF increases the likelihood that they can successfully accomplish the lifestyle changes needed to reach their health and wellness goals. Our patients have greatly enjoyed this unique part of the APF care experience, which reinforces our commitment to partnering with them as they strive to improve their health.”

The APF is accepting new patients, with no lottery or application process required. To register, visit

Read more articles from the 12/16/11 Hotline issue.


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