Origins and pilot project

The idea for the Health Coaching KHM programme formed during a conference for health promotion, when professional experts (Ueli Grüninger, Ruedi Hösli, Bertino Somaini) met in 2006—namely, that healthier behaviours in the population, of which a large proportion is in contact with a family doctor, would help to avert many risks and diseases. This is in contrast with doctors’ lack of time in general practice. Short consultations are a tried and tested format. What was new was the idea of placing the patient at the centre—the idea that s/he carries the main responsibility for his/her health, and the doctor has a supporting role.

This provided the impetus for a committed group within the Swiss College for Primary Care Medicine to develop the project, compile the materials, bring a clearer focus, edit, and shorten these, until one year on, a fit-for-practice project had been finalised. 20 doctors in the canton of St Gallen made themselves available as pioneers to pilot the project by advising their patients, having undergone the relevant training.

The results from this pilot project 2011/12 are impressive. More than 1000 patients were asked, and more than 90% agreed to participate in the coaching programme. Half of those who completed the entire four-step programme successfully changed their behaviour, in the sense of an improvement. The feedback about their new role and the new treatment approach was mostly positive and even enthusiastic.

We felt encouraged to pursue the next steps with commitment and energy, and in the meantime we have successfully secured funding for the programme until 2018 and put fully engaged staff in position. Efforts are fully under way to extend and promote the programme to other cantons, other parts of the country, and other professional groups, and to work with partner organisations that pursue similar aims in health promotion/prevention.

See also "Executive Summary" of the final report 2012 (pdf)