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 and answer questions 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.
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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:
  • Improved awareness of COPD, Bronchiectasis, and NTM
  • Improved education on managing and living well with chronic lung conditions
  • Improved patient and caregiver satisfaction (example: improved sleep, reduced depression)
  • Reduced hospital readmissions
  • Improved recognition of signs of exacerbation, thereby preventing or reducing them
  • Improved adherence to treatments (example: medications, exercise and/or physical activity)
  • Reduced clinic staff burden will allow increased capacity to handle patient case load

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.).

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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.

PEer-Led o2 Info-line for patients and CAregivers (PELICAN) 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.

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.

Images from COPD360coach. Click each to view larger image.
Names depicted in images are for demonstration purposes only.

COPD360coach Participant Portal

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COPD360coach Participant Portal ResourcesResources

COPD360coach Coach Portal

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Introducing the COPD Foundation 360 Coaches

Our 360coaches are either patient advocates who often are no longer able to work in full-time positions or caregivers to someone with COPD or a related lung condition. They receive intensive contact center training, specialized Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training on social and behavioral research, and HIPAA compliance training. Additionally, they are highly experienced in motivational interviewing, goal setting, and basic smoking cessation counseling along with comprehensive COPD education.

Meet some of our 360coaches:

Xavier Soler, MD, PhDplus

Dr. Soler received his MD and PhD degrees from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, where he also completed his fellowship in pulmonary and sleep medicine and a specialization in non-invasive mechanical ventilation and tobacco cessation. He was a physician and pulmonologist in Spain before moving to the United States to join the University of California at San Diego in 2006.

Dr. Soler is senior consultant at Gossamer Bio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, acquiring, developing and commercializing therapeutics in the disease areas of immunology, inflammation and oncology.

Prior to joining the COPD Foundation, Xavi was a medical expert and team leader in U.S. Medical Affairs (USMA) at GSK. Xavi has a strong background and formal training in chronic lung diseases such as COPD and asthma and extensive experience in other lung disorders and programs such as chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, tobacco cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation, imaging, and lung cancer. In his role at GSK, he served as an internal expert to provide input and lead projects for evidence generation, clinical trial development, and data analysis. Xavi developed scientific content for educational and training materials for internal and external audiences and served as an internal expert consultant to USMA or critical stakeholders. He has experience managing investigator-initiated studies and large collaborative research endeavors and engaging with health care professional organizations, regulators, and governmental agencies in a scientific capacity.

As an Associate Professor of Medicine at U.C. San Diego, he assumed increasing levels of responsibility, including serving as the Medical Director for Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Director of the Clinical Trials Center & Airway Research Center. He was also Director of Cardiopulmonary Services for El Centro Regional Medical Center, a U.C. San Diego affiliate. Xavi has served as a principal investigator on numerous clinical trials, including the NIH-funded American Lung Association Airway Clinical Research Network (ALA-ACRN) and COPDGene studies. He serves as a reviewer for many pulmonary medicine journals and has authored many original publications, invited articles, book chapters, and abstracts. Dr. Soler completed the National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine (NCLAM) program from U.C. San Diego (2012). He was awarded the American Thoracic Society Foundation Outstanding Early Investigator Award (2014), the American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Early Career Achievement Award (2015), and the U.C. San Diego, International Mentorship Award (2017). Xavi was also recognized as a San Diego Top Doctor (2018).

Dr. Soler maintains a U.C. San Diego affiliation as associate professor of medicine teaching at the School of Medicine and mentoring fellows and young researchers. Xavi holds a formal business administration background and 25+ years of business management and has served pro-bono as an advisory board member and consultant for companies and non-profit organizations (underserved areas in Senegal, Africa).

Linda Walsh, BS, TTSplus

Linda is a finance and business development professional with expertise and extensive knowledge in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors. With 25 years of experience, she is a hands-on leader with key strengths in strategic and financial planning, securing corporate funding and sponsorships, tactical execution and leadership of initiatives that enhance operations, customer service while optimizing profitability. Linda has a demonstrated record of developing and executing financial and operational controls that improve profit & loss (PNL) and competitively position organizations.

Linda served as a volunteer for the COPD Foundation prior to directing the C.O.P.D. Information Line from 2011 until 2019. Under her leadership, the Information Line Associates were rigorously trained as peer health coaches providing integral support for many Foundation research initiatives including the CAPTURE Study, the COPD and Pneumonia (CAP) Study, the iPArTNER Study, the O2Verlap Study, the PELICAN Study, the Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN), and the Pulmonary Education Program (PEP).

As Chief Community Engagement Officer at the COPD Foundation, Linda is focused on expanding support for all individuals affected by COPD.

She is passionate about educating, empowering, and engaging all stakeholders of the COPD community as many of her family members are directly impacted by the disease.

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 Lung Transplant Foundation. In addition, she is certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

Tim Deuby, BAplus

Tim is an operational and administrative program development specialist 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.

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. Prior to this, Tim provided administrative and peer program support for a related COPD condition from 2009 to 2013.

As COPD360 Project Manager at the COPD Foundation, Tim is part of the team rebuilding the COPD360coach program. He assists in the daily management of the program as well as provides ongoing operational and peer coach training support.

Brandon Holmesplus

Brandon began his journey with the COPD Foundation in 2014 on the C.O.P.D. Information Line where he assisted patients and caregivers with much needed education and information.

He spent several years working in home health care and hospice spending one-on-one time with patients and their families. As a Correctional Medical Assistant, Brandon worked directly with physicians and other medical specialties to encompass the care of his patients.

Brandon is also a caregiver to his mother who has COPD, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and mild bronchiectasis. He handled her weekly infusions for several years and traveled with her to conferences and education days.

During his tenure on the Information Line, Brandon worked directly with the COPD community on a daily basis serving as a Team Leader and as a Peer Mentor to new Associates. Brandon has supported several COPD Foundation research studies as a peer health coach.

Brandon grew up in Northern Utah and attended Weber State University. He is an avid photographer and enjoys spending time with his niece and nephews and his sweet dog, Jasmine.

Pam DeNardo, BA, TTSplus

Pam was diagnosed with COPD in 1999 and has worked with the COPD Foundation since its inception in 2004. She is constantly amazed at how far it has come. Initially, there was virtually no place to go for a newly diagnosed patient to get all the information they would need. So after going her own way and working with an online group, attending conferences, etc., she ran into John Walsh who told her about the COPD Foundation and asked her to help.

That was it for Pam. She knew that she was in. "Education can do so much for a patient; from alleviating their anxiety, giving them hope, and turning that mental stress into focus. That focus will make them healthier, live longer and deal with life with COPD."

Pam’s work with the Foundation started with speaking out as a patient at various conferences, education days, and any other events she was asked to attend.

After retiring in 2006 from a small brokerage firm she started 18 years earlier, Pam had more time to devote to educating the patient in whatever way she could.

During all these years working with the COPD Foundation, Pam has worked with incredibly devoted people in various capacities and can honestly say it was a great experience for her.

"My favorite job has been with the C.O.P.D. Information Line. John and Diane Walsh, Bill Clark and I designed a toll-free telephone number to offer information and referral services to patients and caregivers who had questions or needed support. For years we were strictly a volunteer endeavor until it was transformed in 2011 to provide many other peer health support services to our community. I am still doing this kind of work today."

"With COPD, there are so many avenues to pursue if one wants to help. Helping other patients is obviously mine."

Claudya Greig, AAplus

Claudya is a retired teacher and librarian living in northern Idaho near her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. She also has a son in Santiago, Chile along with his wife and two daughters, and a married daughter in Quito, Ecuador with two children.

She has always had a passion for travel and lived in Chile for 28 years where she continued her education and raised her family.

Claudya was diagnosed with COPD in 2000 and has been on oxygen for approximately ten years, making it harder to travel, but never impossible. Additionally, she was a caregiver for both her mother, who had COPD, as well as her husband who had pulmonary hypertension.

Claudya has been involved with the COPD Foundation since 2015. Initially, she was a bilingual Associate of the C.O.P.D. Information Line, then a Research Assistant, and now a COPD360 Coach supporting patients in both English and Spanish.

She was one of the first members of the COPD support group in her area and enjoyed joining other advocates by participating in the IMPACT COPD advocacy event in Washington, DC in 2020.

Claudya loves animals, gardening, playing Pinochle and is a firm believer in exercising. Years ago, her doctor told her to “stay active” and she has taken his advice to this day and hopes to encourage others to do the same.

To learn more about the COPD Foundation 360coach platform, please contact Linda Walsh at lwalsh@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."