Blues nurses, health coaches turn to motivational interviewing to improve members’ health

The way a question is asked determines the direction of a conversation. This can have a dramatic effect on a person who is interviewing for a job or for a person asking for directions to the movie theater. It can also have a dramatic effect on health outcomes for people with chronic conditions or generally unhealthy lifestyles.

By learning how to ask questions differently, several Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan nurses and health coaches are helping our members make the lifestyle changes they need to become healthy. They’re learning the Motivational Interviewing technique, and changing the way they ask questions is only one part of the equation.

During the course of the training, these professionals learn how to hone their skills in listening with empathy, understanding the motivations of members, resisting the urge to correct member’s behaviors and how to empower members to make permanent lifestyle changes.

After an intensive training curriculum, the nurses improved their motivational interviewing skills by 46 percent over the course of a year. Those same nurses are noticing that members are more willing to engage with them over the phone and are more receptive to help in overcoming the barriers they face in their journey to improved health.

“We are committed to having a top-notch health coach counseling program and we are finding this to be an effective way to engage individuals in making positive lifestyle changes,” said Ann Baker, senior director of wellness, care management and health promotion.

The nurses and health coaches who participated in the Motivational Interviewing training conducted by Health Sciences Institute completed a 40-hour online curriculum in chronic care and health coaching. This was followed by an on-site, hands-on training. Their progress is being tracked on a quarterly basis to make sure the training program improves health outcomes over the long term.

Check out a recent My TV 20 segment on motivational interviewing.

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