On July 9, 2020, the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute, in collaboration with Ortho Molecular Products, convened hundreds of healthcare practitioners to Simplexity Medicine 2.0: Quantifying Patient Resilience. The virtual, live conference was a great opportunity for functional medicine practitioners, as it helped them connect and learn from a faculty of experts sharing their insight on building and measuring health resiliency. In the climate of COVID-19, this topic was timely and valuable to healthcare practitioners seeing patients on the front lines of the pandemic. Attendees also learned about ways to continue transitioning their practices to meet the needs of patients during the pandemic, including telemedicine and group visits.
Here are key takeaways from the event, organized by speaker:
Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN
- Dr. Bland kicked off his presentation with a question: “What can we do to improve our metabolic flexibility, our capacity to respond to this virus?” This question spoke to the learning goals of the conference, but also the need for preventative care (or health resilience) within the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dr. Bland predicts the pandemic will have irrevocable effects on several areas of health, including reimbursement for medical services and planetary awareness. He shares his reflections on this topic in this article.
- Referencing the book Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Dr. Bland explained that some things not only gain from chaos but need it in order to thrive. From Dr. Bland’s perspective, COVID-19 is testing our ability to become “antifragile” in our health.
Femke Hoevenaars, PhD
- Dr. Hoevenaars defines health as the ability to adapt and the ability to self-manage.
- She asked the question, “Can we use the ability to adapt as a marker for health?” By challenging homeostasis, the idea is to test resilience as a measure for health.
- Dr. Hoevenaars emphasized the difference between a “curative setting” (lifestyle as medicine) and a “preventative setting” (lifestyle to prevent chronic disease) when studying and measuring health resilience.
- Her research indicates that metabolic flexibility, or the body’s ability to respond or adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demand, is directly connected to response to treatment for chronic disease.
- Research conducted at TNO, the research company where Dr. Hoevenaars is a scientist, found that 70% of hospitalized cases of COVID-19 in the Netherlands have a least one lifestyle-related complication present. Read more about TNO research on the novel coronavirus here and here.
- Because patients like these lack metabolic flexibility, Dr. Hoevenaars explained, their bodies are already experiencing a lot of systemic stress, making it difficult for them to effectively fight the COVID-19 virus.
Steve Amoils, MD
- Dr. Amoils sees a paradigm shift happening in medicine—the new paradigm of wellness is not necessarily health, but resilience.
- Resilience is the ability to reconnect to one’s purpose, and wellness is an active process.
- Dr. Amoils emphasized the difference between wellness and wellbeing. Wellness is defined as the absence of illness, whereas wellbeing is an ongoing state of resilience and vitality.
- Dr. Amoils, a Clinical Expert at the LMRC, highlighted one of the tools in the WellMatrix Health Resilience Program that he helped develop: the WellMatrix Questionnaire. He described it as a tool to help busy practitioners quickly find out if they are missing anything when assessing patients’ wellbeing. The results of the questionnaire also allow practitioners to easily pivot their protocols toward any of the key areas of wellbeing.
- To learn more about the WellMatrix Health Resiliency Program and how you can implement these tools in your practice, click here.
Shilpa Saxena, MD, IFMCP
- If now is the time to build resilience in patients, then practitioners must find a way to help as many patients as possible, leveraging their time and the community they’re a part of, according to Dr. Saxena.
- From her experience implementing group visits in her practice and developing the Group Visit Toolkit, Dr. Saxena explained that people want to connect with others who share their experiences in a group visit setting. Practitioners using group visits consistently see better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
- Financial benefits of group visits include more individual visit access and 200-600% productivity increases. Operational benefits include improved wait times, staffing efficiencies and higher practitioner satisfaction.
- Dr. Saxena referenced implementing group visits in a virtual setting—you can learn more about best practices in this short training video with Dr. Christopher Mote and James Maskell.
- To learn more about group visits and how you can implement them in your practice, click here. You can also set up a concierge call to discuss your unique practice needs with one of our Implementation Specialists here.
Olivia is a writer and communications professional in the functional medicine industry.