Founder and CEO of ChooseHealth
May 7, 2020 8:00:08 AM
Why is it so hard for people to get on the path to good health?
Even highly motivated individuals find it difficult to make the right changes in their lives and stick with them, especially when they have so little objective information about what is working for them.
An annual check-in is just not enough for most of us.
After starting my career in the functional medicine industry, I could see how this informational gap was creating an obstacle for true health and wellness. So, I founded ChooseHealth, a virtual diagnostic testing platform that allows people to test themselves at home, send samples back to a partner lab, and get the results sent to their mobile device as well as their practitioner.
See our interview with Mark Holland, Founder of ChooseHealth, on Changing Healthcare:
Many years ago, we started a successful medical foods business that focused on a few niche formulas. We grew over the course of a ten year period, and throughout the experience I started to realize how much misinformation existed in the dietary supplements industry.
The problem is that companies offering these products are not under any obligation to provide proof of efficacy. The FDA has guidelines that say you must have the science to back up your product claims, but they leave it up to the industry to regulate itself.
So, we were faced with a lot of competitors with similar products that made similar claims -- but they didn’t necessarily have the scientific research to back them. Unfortunately, the success of these companies depends more on having deep pockets for marketing and advertising than on creating excellent products.
All of this makes it really tough for consumers to know what they are getting for their money.
We started by inviting several functional medicine doctors to our offices, and asked them, "If you could track only five markers of your health for the rest of your life, what would they be, and why?"
Of course they came back with 15 markers instead of five, so we sat down again and narrowed it down to the six markers in our core test today.
Using our system, people can now test themselves at home in a few minutes, send the sample to a lab, and then the lab sends the results to a mobile app on their phone, as well as their practitioner. This helps them get fast, reliable insight into the effectiveness of their health plan.
Our first series of tests were very successful, but we knew technology was only part of the solution. We needed to educate people about how to measure their health in order for it to work.
Our testing kit focuses on the following markers that are clinically linked to chronic disease and long term health:
When the test results come back from the lab, they are sent to the patient's phone. Then, we offer a glimpse into how those results relate to specific lifestyle factors, like diet, exercise, drinking, and other choices.
As a patient, you decide which markers to focus on and which lifestyle factors could potentially have the greatest impact, then we help you track them. Throughout the journey, you're running an ongoing experiment on your own with specific goals in mind.
Our founding physicians built this system not only as a means to track the most important markers of internal health, but also to help practitioners with patient compliance.
In a typical naturopathic practice, doctors collect a panel of markers from the patient and determine the markers that need work. Maybe the patient’s blood sugar level is high or insulin sensitivity is an issue, and the practitioner recommends a low-carb diet, along with a regimen of supplements. The patient might follow through with all of this, but the doctor won’t know until it's time for another checkup.
It's really difficult to monitor progress this way.
"We need to give people the means to track the most important markers of long term health and provide objective feedback as they try different things with their lifestyle and their practitioners." -Mark Holland, CEO of ChooseHealth
The system we’ve built is a low-cost way for physicians to get patients tested on a monthly or quarterly basis in-between visits, and track their results. It helps patients comply more effectively with the protocols they’ve committed to with their doctor, and get faster insights about how the plan is working.
As a practitioner, you're giving people more control. We all know certain lifestyle changes don’t come easy to most people. Changing your diet, starting an exercise routine, cutting back on smoking or drinking – these things are real challenges for people.
We provide faster validation that things are working for them, and it's really exciting to see how encouraged people feel when they get regular feedback.
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the trend toward virtual care, and a platform that makes it easier for patients to communicate with their physician and to get the resources they need is critical.
We built this technology to fit into any lab’s API, so physicians can facilitate tests remotely. Doctors who practice telehealth will have access to testing they need and get it shipped directly to the patient's home, making the process seamless.
Trying to adapt to a work from home scenario has been challenging for many people, and old habits die hard. But the adoption of remote practice management tools and techniques is going to speed up dramatically. This is a critical time in the adoption cycle for these technologies, and everyone will benefit from it.
The most surprising thing we’ve discovered from ChooseHealth is that no one has optimal results across the board. Everyone has something they can improve on, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works. We need to give people the means to track the most important markers of good health and provide objective feedback as they try different things with their practitioners.
Then, they might finally find an answer to the question: Am I healthy on the inside?