American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Coaching Patients Saves Lives and Money

doctor shaking hands with female patient

The Coaching On Achieving Cardiovascular Health (COACH) Program has been proven to improve biomedical and lifestyle cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term impact of The COACH Program on overall survival, hospital utilization, and costs from the perspective of a private health insurer (payor), in patients with CVD.


A prospective parallel-group case-control study design with controls randomly matched to patients based on propensity score. There were 512 participants with CVD engaged in a structured disease management program of 6 months duration (The COACH Program) who were matched to 512 patients with CVD who were allocated to the control group. The independent variables that estimated the propensity score were preprogram hospital admissions, age, and sex. The primary outcome was overall survival with secondary outcomes, including hospital utilization and cost incurred by the private health insurer. Mean follow-up was 6.35 years. Difference in overall survival between the 2 groups was estimated using a Cox proportional hazard ratio (HR) with difference in total cost estimated using a generalized linear model.


The COACH Program achieved a significant reduction in overall mortality (HR 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53-0.93; P = .014). There was an apparent dose-response effect: those who received up to 3 coaching sessions had no decrease in mortality (HR 1.02; 95% CI, 0.69-1.49; P = .926); those who received 4 or more coaching sessions had a substantial decrease in mortality (HR 0.58; 95% CI, 0.42-0.81; P = .001). Total cost to the health insurer was substantially lower in the intervention group ($12,707 per person lower; P = .078). The reduction in total cost was significantly greater in those who received 4 or more sessions ($19,418 per person; P= .006) and in males ($18,947 per person; P = .029).


Those enrolled in The COACH program achieved a statistically significant decrease in overall mortality compared with usual care at 6.35 years. A substantive reduction in hospital costs was also observed among those who received The COACH program compared with those who did not, particularly in those who received 4 or more sessions and in males.

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-Joshua Byrnes, PhD, Thomas Elliott, M H Econ, Margarite J. Vale, PhD, Michael V. Jelinek, MBBS, MD, FRACP, Paul Scuffham, PhD

This article originally appeared in the April issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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