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Health Dialog Partners with Penn State to Confirm Value of Health Coaching in Reducing Fall-Related Fractures in Older Adults

Existing data show coach-assisted exercise reduces fractures by two-thirds in older adults

BOSTON, Mass. – June 15, 2015 – Health Dialog, a leading provider of population health management services, announced today its participation in a study to confirm the beneficial role of health coaches in reducing fractures among older adults who exercise. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) awarded nearly $14 million to Penn State College of Medicine for a three-year study—the largest of its kind—that will enroll 2,000 adults 65 years and older who have had a fall-related fracture and wish to resume exercise. The study, called Band Together, seeks to validate findings of six smaller studies, which show that exercise assisted by a health coach reduced the risk of fracture in older adults by two-thirds. Researchers plan to use the findings to encourage Medicare and private insurance to provide coverage for health coach-assisted exercise programs for this special population.

Less than five percent of older adults get the recommended amount of exercise needed to stay fit and strong in order to avoid fall-related fractures. After a fracture occurs, people get even less exercise because they are concerned about falling. This creates a vicious cycle in which each fall causes people to further limit their activities, which further increases the risk for falling. Not knowing how to exercise safely also prevents seniors from being active. Health coaches can address hesitation to exercise caused by not knowing how to do it safely. Coach-assisted exercise can help overcome barriers to activity.

“A health coach can be an invaluable resource to older adults beginning an exercise program following a fracture,” said Chris Sciamanna, Project Director of Band Together and Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine. “While older adults may understand the benefit of exercise, many have never done strength training. They may have a fear of falling or experiencing another injury. Through Band Together, a trained health coach will offer participants support and appropriate guidance, which we hope will help them overcome barriers, learn proper techniques and ultimately help to prevent falls and injuries from falling.”

With nearly two decades of experience in whole person health coaching and developing health coach-enhanced programs, Health Dialog will train the health coaches working with study participants. Health Dialog’s participation ensures that the health coaches used in this study are trained to give each member the one-on-one support needed to address their specific needs and overcome their fears and barriers to adopting healthier behaviors. Additional collaborators include the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Association, the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and Highmark Blue Shield.

“Health coaches are becoming increasingly more valuable in helping Americans achieve and maintain good health,” said Peter Goldbach, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. “They’re helping patients take a more proactive role in their health across a growing number of areas such as preparing for an important doctor visit, making more informed decisions about treatment options and following complex medication protocols. Health coaches have also demonstrated their value to older adults who wish to exercise but have experienced a setback, and we’re pleased to be a part of such a worthwhile study.”

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About Health Dialog:
Health Dialog Services Corporation is a leading provider of population health management solutions. The company works with the nation’s largest third-party payers, employers and providers – as well as Health Dialog’s parent company, Rite Aid – to improve the health and wellness of their members, employees, patients and customers while reducing costs and improving performance in key quality measures, such as NCQA’s HEDIS and CMS’ Stars ratings. Health Dialog’s unique capabilities include data analytics, a multi-channel coaching platform, shared decision-making tools, and a 24/7 nurse line. For more information, visit

About Penn State Medical College
Enrolling its first students in 1967, Penn State College of Medicine confers the doctor of medicine degree and, in conjunction with the University's Graduate School, offers doctor of philosophy degrees in anatomy, bioengineering, biomedical sciences, biostatistics, immunology and infectious diseases, bioinformatics and genomics, molecular medicine, molecular toxicology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology. The college also offers a master of public health and master of science degrees in laboratory animal medicine, public health sciences, and homeland security. In total, the College of Medicine has more than 1,700 students and trainees in medicine, nursing, the health professions and biomedical research on its campus.

Located on the campus of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., the College of Medicine boasts a portfolio of nearly $82 million in funded research. Projects range from development of artificial organs and advanced diagnostics to groundbreaking cancer treatments and understanding the fundamental causes of disease.