Business Name and What It Does
Health Coach International Pte Ltd and Health Coach Academy Pte Ltd.
Health Coach International is a pioneer in the health coaching arena, and provides corporate wellness programs to companies, working closely with the Singapore Health Promotion Board, as a service provider for many integrative health programs, like weight management, chronic disease management and cancer support programs. Meanwhile, it gets its resources from a pool of health coaches trained and certified by its sister company Health Coach Academy.
CEO and founder of Health Coach International Pte Ltd and Health Coach Academy Pte Ltd, Jessica See started the HCI group in Singapore in 2009 with a clear vision to grow the biggest community of certified health coaches in Asia.
As the saying goes, the best way to predict the future is to design it.
Way back in 2009, Jessica had already seen the possibility for health coaching in Asia, based on evidence which clearly shows how health coaching works, and the fact that it was relatively unheard of or not well understood in Asia.
She was already a certified professional trainer and coach at that point, but in areas of managerial effectiveness, communication, and personal branding. After retiring from her past nine years’ experience as a co-founder and managing editor of a business magazine for women, that seemed a natural area for her to continue to impact lives as she did with the magazine. However, when she turned 48 in 2009, she realised that her personal goal was to live a long, happy, healthy life, and that started her own personal quest to move into the health coaching arena. She pursued her studies and graduated as a clinical nutritionist, and stress management consultant; and she even completed a diploma in psychology to add to her coach certification.
Her passion for health coaching grew as she see real lives transformed and health reclaimed by thousands of lives over the past years.
Challenges/Opportunities the Business/Market is facing
A turning point for Health Coach International was the Covid-19 pandemic which started in early 2020.
Contrary to what was happening to many other businesses, business for Health Coach International was THRIVING. In fact, Health Coach International had their best year ever in 2020, closing the biggest contract in 11 years of business.
Why the spike? The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on occupational health in companies. The pandemic has brought new challenges and risks for workers, and has also highlighted the importance of a safe and healthy work environment. Employers have had to quickly adapt to these new challenges and provide support and resources to help workers manage their health during these difficult times.
There is a significant increase in remote work, as many companies have had to close their physical workspaces to limit the spread of the virus. While remote work has many benefits, it can also pose challenges for occupational health, such as increased feelings of isolation and decreased opportunities for physical activity.
The COVID-19 pandemic also had a profound impact on the mental health of many workers, with increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression reported. Companies have had to respond by offering support and resources to help employees manage their mental health during these challenging times.
The pandemic has also led to financial stress for many workers, with many losing their jobs or facing reduced hours and pay. This financial stress can have a negative impact on overall health and well-being.
So with these new challenges for occupational health in companies, comes the increased demand for employee assisted programs and of health coaching for the employees, especially in the area of mental health.
This prompted the next turning point for Health Coach International – the need to increase the company’s efforts to train and certify more health coaches to meet the growing demand. Perhaps this can be seen as the biggest challenge – there were simply not enough well trained health coaches to meet the market demand.
Things look even brighter moving on…. The company is now providing coaching services not only to their own corporate clients but also to several companies in the same industry, including a Singapore-based corporate health and wellness platform. There are also a few mega projects on the horizon – collaborations with hospital chains and other healthcare providers, with entrepreneurs who can see the potential of health coaching.
The ultimate goal is to promote better understanding of the effectiveness of health coaching and to increase demand for health coaches, thus creating a healthier Asia!
In 2020, the HCI group expanded into other parts of Asia and has since trained more than 300 health coaches, with their background ranging from health professionals – medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and dieticians, to non-health professionals who are simply interested in the health arena e.g. physical trainers, people who are health-conscious, and those who had close encounters with poor health before. Healthcare providers looking to start a health coaching division in their company have also sent their staff to be trained and certified by the HCI group.
One huge opportunity for the health coaching business is the growing need for geriatric care due to the increase in the aging population around Asia. Let’s take a look at Singapore. Colloquially dubbed the ‘Silver Tsunami,’ Singapore’s rapidly ageing population has been described as a ‘demographic time bomb’ with serious impact on healthcare services. The Singapore government has been active in implementing a range of major initiatives to minimize the impact on healthcare services in general. And amongst the various strategies, they have taken a close look at how health coaching can help bridge the gap, as part of the healthcare team, working with the primary care providers and case managers, to ensure that patients receive coordinated care.
Another huge opportunity lies in the rising epidemic of lifestyle-related chronic diseases in the world. WHO estimates that 79% of the adult population in the world has at least one chronic condition, with 50% having at least two chronic conditions. That is the bad news.
The good news is that this was attributed to three main causes: poor diet, smoking and sedentary lifestyle. Why is this good news? You will note that all three are in fact behaviours that people can choose to do or not to do. And for those who struggle to make the change, health coaches are the trained behaviour change specialists who can help them.
Many hospitals are now setting up health coaching divisions to improve health outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. There has also been a movement in recent months to train the current care team in coaching and counselling skills to better motivate patients towards the necessary behaviour change for better health.
A recent Healthier SG White Paper outlined a proactive, preventative approach to reducing the incidence of chronic disease in Singapore. It aims to shift doctor-patient relationships from being transactional and episodic to ones based on familiarity and trust. But of course, this will further add to doctors’ immediate workload.
Well, as was highlighted on Channel News Asia early this year, “health coaches could be that overlooked but essential part of the equation.” https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/healthier-sg-eat-healthy-exercise-doctors-coaches-3184711
The key element to understand about health coaches is that they are a COACH.
A nutritionist or dietitian prescribes dietary changes; a personal trainer recommends specific workout routines.
On the other hand, a health coach’s role is to help the client integrate their desired health and wellbeing changes into their lifestyle, so they can stay healthy for life.
Health coaching is a collaborative process between a trained health coach and a client, aimed at helping the client achieve their health goals. Health coaches are primarily behaviour change specialists, professionals who work with individuals to identify their health goals and provide guidance, support, and accountability as the client works toward achieving those goals.
Health coaches use a variety of evidence-based techniques to help clients identify and overcome barriers to their health, including motivational interviewing, goal setting, and other effective behaviour change techniques. Health coaches are not teachers or trainers, although at times, they may need to share some knowledge with the clients. More often however, their focus is to help the clients discover new possibilities for themselves.
Lessons Learnt in Business
When Jessica started a business magazine for working women in 1989, it was before its time. She had a vision of providing a platform for working women to learn and to thrive. It was an awesome idea, but the market was simply not ready at that time. Although, the magazine had the support of all the big-name advertisers, led by Rolex on the back cover, the overheads were too high, so when the economy took a downturn in 1997, it was a struggle to keep going.
Fast forward to 2009. With Health Coach International, Jessica made it a point to keep the overheads low, focusing mainly on building a huge team of independent health coaches to partner and collaborate with. As projects came flooding in, it was easy to galvanize as many passionate health coaches as needed, in their different areas of specialties as demanded. As one global corporate wellness company based in US, with clients in Asia, stated, “You are the only health coach we know in Asia….”
Small also means fast. Like a cheetah, we can move swiftly in any direction we want, and answer any call from any client that needs us. We believe we are the change the healthcare industry in Asia needs!
The key to success in any business is to have clarity in why you exist as a business. What is the need in the market that no other company can meet, or at least not enough companies can meet? What is your USP and your niche? Why should your clients/customers buy from you and not your competitors?
With its proven success over 14 years in the health and wellness market, Health Coach International’s mission is to help people to mindlessly live healthier, happier and longer lives through lifestyle modifications. And with that, to add more years to their lives and life to their years! Our niche: we are Asians working with Asians to meet their culturally specific needs. That’s why our clients work with us. As one of our past clients Shreebha Wasu, from Standard Chartered Bank so appropriately stated, “The (integrative) programme helped me in understanding how I can make healthier life choices sub-consciously and don’t constantly feel like I am on a diet.”
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