Lifestyle medicine, the holistic form of medicine where prevention is central, is becoming increasingly important. This relatively young domain is definitely a trend to be aware of.
Some remarkable new players have entered the playground of lifestyle medicine post covid
While the debate about the role and position of ‘lifestyle medicine’ professionals in the European healthcare system continues, some remarkable new players have entered the playground of this ecosystem post covid: hospitals and specialized medical centers.
These specific examples caught our attention:
1) NYC Health + hospitals implement the first lifestyle medicine program in a public hospital setting in the USA
With the support of the NYC-mayor Eric Adams, the largest public health care system in the USA NYC Health + Hospitals introduced a lifestyle medicine program in 6 out of their 11 hospitals. NYC health started in 1 hospital and is now expanding to other sites in the New York region. Dr Michelle McMacken, a leading professor on nutritional medicine, was appointed to be Medical Director of the program. It’s the first of its kind in a public hospital in the USA.
Patients with (pre-)diabetes, cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and health concerns regarding obesity can follow a ‘Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program’ to make the shift to optimize health, reduce risk of disease complications and improve overall well being.
It means they receive a medical evaluation and have access to personal sessions with a multidisciplinary team and to group sessions. The program is based on a plant-based diet, but also includes physical activity, stress reduction, sleep monitoring, .. .
“The outcomes we've seen in the Bellevue program have been tremendous”
– Dr. Michelle McMacken
A pilot study in the Bellevue hospital has been very successful: demand was high and even exceeded capacity. People taking part in the program mainly wanted to gain more control over life, reduce medications and lose weight. Operation of the program is now being scaled-up and future research will map clinical outcomes.
It’s no surprise this initiative is strongly supported by NYC mayor Adams and NYC Health+ CEO Mitchell Katz.
The first is known for his personal mission to drive New Yorkers to a healthy lifestyle, being confronted with Type 2 Diabetes himself. And Dr. Mitchell Katz is a leader determined to make healthcare accessible and more lifestyle oriented. He started integrated care during his past as director of the LA County Health Agency and is also well known for his previous ‘Healthy San Francisco’-initiatives.
It looks like both men and Dr. McMacken are now determined to build New York city as a healthy city-example.
So it takes no-nonsense choices to make healthcare innovation successful. New strategies for preventive health are possible.
Also on the other side of the ocean we recently noticed hospitals building healthy lifestyle models and services. Both in specialised private centers and in Dutch general hospitals developing new services.
2) Specialised private centers for prevention and lifestyle medicine in Europe
Concierge Medicine Europe opened its doors in May 2021 in Prague (Czech Republic) as a private hospital with no incorporation in the public system. The aim here is not to just treat, but to really offer lifestyle medicine and preventative care with a personalized approach.
Concierge ‘wants to redesign the way healthcare and prevention is delivered’. A multidisciplinary team not only has a yearly check-up for you, but integrates a lifestyle medicine health plan and coaching into your personal 360° prevention and care, coordinated by a personal GP. It also includes medical services. Patients pay a yearly membership fee in a B2C model, or can join in a B2B2C model.
Whereas in Belgium, Leadlife recently opened its doors as a specialized digital-first center for lifestyle and health prevention. Leadlife offers a personalised measurement and lifestyle medicine program: 2measure and 2improve. Founded and coordinated by Dr. Servaas Bingé, the aim is to develop more centers in Belgium in the years to come. Patients can have a leadlife program in a B2C or B2B2C model.
And in Poland and Germany, 2 Longevity centers focus on biological age and offer 12-months programs including measurement, healthy lifestyle interventions and medical coordination. The centers opened in 2019, just before the covid pandemic and were founded by Joanna Bensz. She is also the founder of the International Institute of Longevity.
3) Dutch hospitals include healthy lifestyle programs in their offer
In the Netherlands, some hospitals have started with dedicated lifestyle departments, offering diagnostic, coaching and monitoring services. GP’s or specialists can refer patients to the multidisciplinary centers. The cost of the program is partly covered by Dutch health insurance.
The most integrated offer, including diagnosis, several lifestyle modules, follow up and a patient journey app, is the one of Anna Ziekenhuis in the Eindhoven region.
Also Dijklander ziekenhuis, situated in Volendam has a lifestyle clinic. Their program started in 2021 and uses lifestyle medicine to improve the life of pain patients.
Takeaways from this article:
- lifestyle medicine is taking the step from education to implementation
- and hospitals take up a new role in the ecosystem (next to GP’s, health prevention coaches and startups, eg)
- hospitals are investing in dedicated and integrated healthy lifestyle departments for large groups of patients
- and business models in health prevention are changing: public health insurances (partly) refund the programs now.
- in the years to come, we expect hospitals and (both public and private) health insurances in Europe to invest even more in lifestyle programs, since outpatient services are becoming more important
- the development of lifestyle medicine departments offers new career opportunities for GP’s, paramedical professionals and health coaches alike
Thanks to Gianna V., co-author of this article.
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