What is Peer Health Coaching?

Peer health coaches are patients or caregivers (peers) who are trained to support other patients and help them manage their condition. For example, peer health coaches can meet patients on the phone, by internet, chat or through email. They answer questions in both English and Spanish about taking medicines, exercising, quitting smoking, or using different devices and health management apps or programs.

Peer health coaching has revolutionized patient engagement and self-management by empowering individuals to take control of their own condition.
peer heath coach communications

Clinically validated in many chronic conditions including diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease, peer health coaching improves the lives of many. Patients are more motivated to self-manage their condition and adhere to treatment and prescribed medications when they have a personal connection to someone with a shared experience. Shared experiences create deeper trust and empathy. Because of this, peer health coaches are able to present information in more meaningful ways to patients than clinicians or other health care providers.

While unable to give medical advice, the peer health coach is a valuable and complementary component of the patient’s care team who can drive positive health outcomes by enhancing patient engagement, providing encouragement and support, reducing the unnecessary utilization of care, and urging the patient to seek immediate care before an exacerbation.

Peer health coaches meet patients where they are...

Benefits of Peer Health Coaching:

COPD360coach is a first-of-its-kind peer health platform designed to connect trained coaches to people living with COPD. Peer health coaches aim to help patients manage their own conditions and reduce the need for professional health care providers (example: doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists).

For example, peer health coaches can support the transition home from the hospital by educating the patients on the importance of following discharge instructions and adhering to medications, as directed. Additionally, 360coaches answer basic questions and provide information and referrals to health-related social needs (i.e., housing, transportation, food, utilities, etc.).

Hospital to coach transtion
Hospital to coach transtion

COPD360coach Platform

The COPD360 technology framework includes a care management solution, a HIPAA-compliant care support and coaching solution designed to deliver patient education through structured workflows. This unique care management solution enables peer-to-peer health coaches to efficiently manage and communicate with participants in a health coaching program. Utilized in recent clinical trials including the O2VERLAP study, COPD360coach’s peer-to-peer interaction was appreciated by study participants.

Results from the PELICAN (Comparative effectiveness of PEer-Led supplemental oxygen InfoLine for patients and CAregivers) study provided preliminary data on the potential benefits of phone-based proactive peer coaching on depressive symptoms and sleep disturbance in patients with COPD who were prescribed oxygen treatment for 24 hours per day.

The COPD Foundation partnered with Holy Cross Health to establish the first Respiratory Navigator and Peer Coach (RNPC) program at the Catherine Yardley Comprehensive Pulmonary Center that leverages the COPD360coach platform and Foundation online and printed educational materials. The program supports patients on their healing journey from the post-acute phase toward self-management at home with ongoing personalized educational and coping support from peer health coaches.

Continuing with the expansion of the RNPC program, the COPD Foundation developed a peer-supported virtual pulmonary rehabilitation (VPR) process improvement pilot program in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and Allegheny Health Network. COPD360 peer health coaches remotely support patients in patient adherence to physical activity for improved health outcomes.

The six-month program proactively supports patients twice a week through the initial eight weeks of VPR followed monthly throughout the remaining 16 weeks of maintenance VPR. Included in the program are goal setting and COPD disease management education.

COPD360coach also supports the Inspiration Point Study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a private interactive online community on COPD360social. Study participants are connected to other individuals impacted by COPD to receive support, ask questions, as well as chat with a peer health coach.

The Bronchiectasis and NTM Ambassador Program utilizes the COPD360coach platform to provide newly diagnosed individuals and their family members with ongoing support, advice, and answers to general questions about both conditions.

Introducing the COPD Foundation 360 Coaches

COPD Foundation 360coaches are patient advocates who often no longer work in full-time positions or caregivers to someone with COPD or a related lung condition. 360coaches receive intensive contact center training, specialized Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training on social and behavioral research, HIPAA compliance training, Foundational Motivational Interviewing, Brief Interventions in Health Care, and Council for Tobacco Treatment Training Programs (CTTTP) Tobacco Treatment Specialist training. Also, 360coaches are highly experienced in goal setting and comprehensive COPD education.

Meet some of our 360coaches:

Linda Walsh, BS, TTSplus

Linda Walsh is the Foundation’s Chief Mission Officer and leads the rebuilding of COPD360coach, the peer health coaching support arm of COPD360Net. Linda directed the C.O.P.D. Information Line from 2011 until 2019 and under her leadership the Information Line Associates were rigorously trained as peer health coaches, supplying integral support for many Foundation research initiatives. These included the CAPTURE Study, the COPD and Pneumonia Study, the iPArTNER Study, the O2Verlap Study, the PELICAN Study, the Patient-Powered Research Network, and the Pulmonary Education Program. Linda is passionate about educating, empowering, and engaging all stakeholders of the COPD community as many of Linda’s family members are directly affected by the disease.

Linda has over 25 years of experience in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors in strategic and financial planning, securing corporate funding and sponsorships, and enhancing operations and customer service.

Linda received a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park and is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Sleep Apnea Association and the Lung Transplant Foundation. In addition, she is certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

Tim Deuby, BA, TTSplus

As COPD360 Project Manager at the COPD Foundation, Tim Deuby is part of the team building the COPD360 Coach program. He assists in the daily management of the program as well as providing ongoing operational and peer coach training support. From 2011 to 2019, Tim helped manage the operations of the C.O.P.D. Information Line whose associates were trained to support many COPD Foundation research initiatives in addition to providing peer health support to the COPD community of patients and caregivers.

Tim is an operational and administrative program development consultant with over 20 years of experience implementing complex processes and programs, in addition to providing business, facility, and contact center project coordination for profit and non-profit organizations.

Prior to his consulting business, Tim served as an environmental, health, and safety manager for a global automotive manufacturing supplier where he managed multiple successful workplace safety and facility system projects.

Tim has a Bachelor of Art in business administration from Cleary University.

Brandon Holmes, TTSplus

In his role as Manager COPD360Coach for the Foundation, Brandon Holmes interacts with COPD patients and caregivers via phone, email, or online chats to answer questions and provide information and support on topics ranging from COPD medicines to quitting smoking to exercising and more. He is uniquely qualified for this role as a peer-to-peer coach as he has been a caregiver for many years for his mother who has the genetic form of COPD, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and mild bronchiectasis.

Brandon began his journey with the COPD Foundation in 2014 on the C.O.P.D. Information Line where he answered calls, emails, and online chats daily from patients and caregivers, while also serving as a Team Leader and a peer mentor to new Information Line associates. In addition, Brandon has supported several COPD Foundation research studies as a peer health coach.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Brandon spent several years working in home health care and hospice, and as a Correctional Medical Assistant. In this role he worked directly with physicians and other medical specialties to encompass the care of his patients.

Brandon attended Weber State University in Northern Utah.

Claudya Greig, AA, TTSplus

Claudya Greig has been involved with the COPD Foundation since 2015—initially as a bilingual Associate of the C.O.P.D. Information Line, and then as a research assistant. Today, she is a Foundation COPD360 Coach supporting patients in both English and Spanish. In this role Claudya interacts with COPD patients and caregivers via phone, email, or online chats to answer questions, giving support and providing information on a variety of COPD-related topics.

Claudya is uniquely qualified to serve in this peer-to-peer coaching and educating role as she herself was diagnosed with COPD in 2000 and has been on oxygen for approximately ten years. Additionally, she was a caregiver for both her mother, who had COPD, as well as her husband who had pulmonary hypertension.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Claudya was a teacher and librarian. She lived in Chile for 28 years where she received an Associate of Arts in education degree from the Universidad de Chile.

Dugan Reed, TTSplus

Dugan Reed is a COPD360Coach for the Foundation working on the Respiratory Navigator Peer Coach (RNPC) program. In this role, Dugan provides peer coaching support by telephone and online chats for patients participating in the program.

Dugan was diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, the genetic form of COPD, in the mid to late part of the 1980’s. He joined the AlphaNet community in 1995 and became actively involved. In 2008, he met COPD Foundation founder John W. Walsh and not long after, was asked to join the C.O.P.D. Information Line at the Foundation. Dugan has participated in many COPD Foundation community events since that time.

In June of 2019, Dugan underwent a double lung transplant at Cleveland Clinic and participated in a study that monitored and motivated recovery for strength and mobility called "Improving Frailty with a Rigorous Ambulation Intervention in Lung Transplant Patients (iFRAIL)".

John Torrence, TTS (Ambassador Coach)plus

John has been self-employed in the construction, computer and textile industries for the last forty years. Until the pandemic, he had been running "A Stitch Above", a small embroidery shop that specialized in making custom display tablecloths and banners for colleges, government and military customers. Now it looks like retirement is his best option ahead!

John’s greatest accomplishment in life is that he helped to develop and implement a truly effective poverty relief program in Mexico that is still active today, and can be found here: www.corazon.org.

John started coughing in 2009 and was first diagnosed with NTM and Bronchiectasis in 2012. His mom had both of these conditions a few years before he did, and sister and various cousins on his mom's side of the family have lung issues as well. He has had several infection and treatment cycles over the last nine years, including fifteen antibiotics and lung surgery.

John has written articles for the COPD Foundation about his personal journey with lung disease, and has worked with both National Jewish Health and Insmed providing the patient perspective.

When his lungs are healthy, John’s favorite activity is scuba diving. Other than that, he likes to build, diagnose, and fix anything from cabinets, appliances, cars, computers to toys. Along the way, John has left a trail of deconstructed items, but each time he gains a better idea of how to fix something in the future.

Please contact the COPD Foundation at info@copdfoundation.org.

Testimonials from O2verlap Study Participants:

"I want to thank my peer health coach and everyone involved in the O2Verlap Study. I am certainly much better informed about my conditions and am more at ease with the CPAP machine."

"I did the study and learned so much about how to deal with the CPAP. The modules were easy and the people were friendly and I didn’t even have to leave the house. Everything was by phone and online in my own time. It was great and I helped the cause."

"This study was great. I learned so much from the online modules and the folks that called were friendly and the best part was no clinics. You don’t have to go anywhere."