“Our goal is to build a new medical system that works for everyone”
James Maskell is the founder of Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine conference which brings together the latest health news, functional medicine research, practice development and health technology in an upbeat, entertaining way.
On this episode, he shares his visions for the medical world. He explains the upside of health care outside medical insurance, why doctors should consider membership in their practices, and the community’s role on health and wellness.
Listen to episode 89 on iTunes here or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.
89: Show Notes
Dr. Veronica Anderson’s Links:
0:58 – Concept of Medical Insurance
5:00 – Most convenient health interaction
7:22 – Membership within Doctor’s practice
13:43 – Doctors’ goal
14:51 – His future plans
16:06 – The community
18:27 – Personal relationship with patients
Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast.
Dr. Veronica: Here’s the big question that I always get. So right now I’m part of the Institute of Functional Medicine I’m a member and a lot of people find me through the Institute of functional medicine. They call at my office the first thing they say is do you take whatever insurance, Humira health, Humana whatever it is. You talk about a model that doesn’t necessarily always operate inside the health insurance system. Why do you talk about that when, now I understand and if it’s operating outside the system but a lot of people think oh it’s just about being greedy, the doctors are greedy that’s what it’s all about. Whereas-
James: No let’s just take a step back.
Dr. Veronica: Yeah a step back, what’s going on?
James: Yes take a step back and just think about this. In any other type of insurance we have a really good idea of what insurance should provide, right. If you have got car insurance or house insurance, we buy that insurance under the potential that something catastrophic happens on the small chance of the happening and then we get paid for you know if that’s chance of your house burns down, when car burns down or get stolen you get a new car or a new house. And we have a very clear understanding and that’s you know medical insurance makes sense in the thing is like if you get an illness if you get hit by a truck we’re going to pay for your things and it’s a small shots.
But what happened over time is we realize that you know when you start talking about lifestyle diseases, it doesn’t really start to make sense. The insurance concept doesn’t really start to make sense when you start to realize that you need other things outside of your health insurance to do that. So for instance if you just relied on anything that insurance pay for to do to your car, you never put oil in it you never changed the tires and very quickly car will break down. But you realize that there’s maintenance that has to happen and you pay cash for that maintenance in order to keep the car running well.
Now the kind of medicine that you were delivering you know you have to think of as you don’t want to- this is one of my favorite phrases, you don’t want to build, if you’re trying to build a driving school don’t build a car repair shop, right. Because these are not the same thing and so what I see is the kind of medicine you are delivering this revolution medicine is how doctors actually treating health creation. Now in the first year of this, doctors were just trying things out and who knows whether it was working.
But what we’re seeing now is that enough doctors are trying to do this and practicing functional medicine that we can see ways to a) make it really work for the doctor and b) really make it work for the patient and typically those solutions are outside of the payer system and when I say payer system I mean the insurance system.
You know and also you have millions of people in America now coming face to face with this thing called a high deductible where they now realize that they’re paying for the first five or ten thousand dollars of care per year anyway. So you might as well you know start to act like a consumer and not just go to a doctor and wait for the bill to come in and see how much it is. Rather go to someone who has really transparent pricing where you can make a judgment. Okay is this worth $200 $500 $1000 and typically what we see is a lot of the interventions that our practitioner community are doing are ridiculously valuable because you’re offsetting future health care costs.
The most expensive thing you could really do is to get lifestyle driven chronic disease. Like if you get colitis because you eat McDonald’s the whole time and you know you didn’t have a healthy diet, you know you’re going to be on Humira and Humira is 50 grand a year. That’s expensive, functional medicine is not expensive.
Dr. Veronica: Well but Humira may be covered by the health insurance and so therefore you don’t think it’s expensive because someone else is footing the bill.
James: I mean Humira is one of the most- I use Humira as an example this is $300 $400 a month out of pocket even if you are getting insurance to pay for it. But ultimately that’s kind of thinking you’re short sighted because as long as someone is paying for it that eventually you’re going to pay for it. So you know why do your health insurance premiums go up 30% the next year, you’re paying for last years Humira.
Dr. Veronica: Yes let’s not talk about people don’t think about not just the finances but that they are chronically ill and feeling like crap and so they’re going to the doctor and it may be free but it don’t look like you get what you pay for because people don’t necessarily ever get well. They keep mounting up disease upon disease upon disease more misery and more pills with more side effects and then they’re wondering why did they break down.
So functional medicine and what we’re doing with integrative medicine, functional medicine and the practice style is different. So one thing I mentioned to you before we started is I said you know now my clients are mostly remote and they find that they like video conferencing and talking on the phone because it’s so much more relaxing and so we can see each other face to face and people find out, well I really like this I like where I can see you and they actually like sometime when I’m at home and they see my doggie come in the picture.
They like that interaction but also as we’re sitting here interacting I might be on my computer and say, oh I want you to learn the X Y Z A B C I’m going to send you a handout for it, here is it I explain it all and send it, I don’t have to rush away. Or for instance we do a video conference and in one of my programs I say not only will you get the video conference recording, I’ll have a transcript for you so that you can read what happened so you don’t ever have to say what did she say or what happened.
You have it all at your fingertips which is a much higher level of service that allows people to figure out what their style is to being getting better but also allows me to coach them so that we could have more accountability. When something happens in their life I’m one of the first persons that they’ll send information to. I just want to let you know my dog passed away, my sister passed away, I’m having a tough time I just wanted to let you know that and people communicate with me and so I can support them through these tough times of stress and help keep them healthy so they won’t pass away like they’re sick relative did.
So it’s completely you know it’s all encompassing in a different way than it is when I have, you have seven or eight minutes in the doctor’s office and the membership style is also wonderful in that, listen I’m here when you need me it’s already pretty much paid for it’s kind of like car insurance, instead of paying an insurance company and getting something that doesn’t work. You’re paying the doctor so then when you do need a lot of time from me it’s already taken care of and we don’t have to talk about the finances at all. So the memberships are beautiful explain like you encouraged doctors to start memberships within their practice. What me you do that?
James: Well as you said so many amazing points in that last piece there. Like you know just the value that you are adding. It’s great to speak to someone obviously like drinking the Kool-Aid. You know look there are so many things that you said. Look a typical visit if I don’t understand after I leave or if I still have questions I don’t really remember what you said, you know the fact that you really will catalogue what happened and make it easy for people to remember what happened is beautiful because that’s a real you know that’s a real asset for people.
So I think you know that’s one way, you know just the technology of making it easier when you think of the evolution of medicine and just in terms of this, you know the first medicine is let’s just talk about like psychiatry, right. In the beginning of psychiatry inpatient electric therapy and that’s it, then you have in-patient. Now you are in a hospital, right and you’re in a hospital and you’re getting acute psychiatric care. Then they have oh we should try and make a little bit hospitable, now you have outpatient care or clinics where it looks like a psychiatrist looks nice and now you’re in a more comfortable environment you’re not in a hospital setting and now that’s just a natural evolution of that is now telemedicine where you get to have it in your house you don’t have to leave the house.
You know there are lots of the great benefits in that and I agree I think telemedicine is the future. I think that the majority of health interactions can happen in the most convenient and lowest overhead way which will help reduce cost for everyone. Just think like when you’re walking into that clinic and it’s got like you know incredible furnishings and it’s got you know wood this and copper that and granite this. You’ve got to realize you’re paying for that too ultimately.
You know if you walk into a hospital and has got this beautiful atrium, who’s paying those bills and ultimately you realize it’s you too. So this kind of low overhead environment it’s good for me and it’s good for you too. So you know encourage the membership card because we’re just trying to reimagine a more appropriate economic interaction between a patient and doctor where the goal is health restoration. You know I don’t know if you heard of back in China there was this idea that you only, you had a healthcare system where you pay when you’re well and you didn’t pay when you were sick, so the doctor wasn’t doing their job.
Well the closes thing that we found to that were you don’t really pay any extra if you’re sick but you pay the same amount all the time whether you’re sick or well but actually the doctor has the incentive to keep you well because then you’re going to pay without coming in and why would you continue to pay? Because the value that you’re getting is so high. And now you know now that you have a membership of patients you can deliver a lot of the stuff that you wouldn’t deliver them to them one on one in through e-mail or through video or through other lower overhead means.
You know I guess one of the things that we’ve done is to say okay let’s not always think in terms of how can we adapt the current system to be slightly better but to be say, okay this was a good system and it’s a good system for acute disease. So let’s use this system for get disease, however these seven diseases are not like these at all and let’s build the system that’s more appropriate for these diseases and I think that type of thinking is you know big in Silicon Valley and big in you know-
But if you’re a doctor I don’t think it’s easy to think like this because you just been trained to do this and so that’s why perhaps it takes someone like me, you can just look at say, okay this systems are not set up right let’s see what it would take to do this and I’m really excited to have people like you in our community trying to work this out because I don’t have all the actors but I do like you- Yes and building it and me hearing about that success and me sharing it with these other doctors means that we all move forward, we all move forward more quickly as a result.
Dr. Veronica: Yes, so one of my goals with people when they come in is to streamline what they’re taking and so besides people taking pharmaceuticals which most of them their goal is to get off of them. They’re taking so many supplements. So everybody is taking you know 10 and 12 supplements that they figured out from Dr. Google and Dr. Oz of here’s what I should take and why and a lot of times it’s not right and it’s not quality necessarily.
So I always tell people, oh my goal is to help you get off your medicine and streamline what supplements you’re taking. We’re going to have a methodical way of figuring it out and I’m going to save you money. Not only we’re going to save you money now I used full script I’m going to give you a source where you’re going to be able to get higher quality than what you’re getting now and you’re going to get it right from your home and you can always ask me and get my advice as to what do I think about X or Y because I’m giving you access to thousands of supplements that us practitioners like. Not the ones that are in the store that you have no idea what they are.
So my goal is to make you feel healthier and to keep more money in your pocket by streamlining your pharmaceuticals. And I don’t stop people’s medicines I don’t write prescriptions, I say I want you to go to your doctor and your doctor will tell you that you’re doing so well we can reduce your medicine, that’s my goal. And what happens is some doctors aren’t on board necessarily in the gegining because they’re like I don’t know anything about that kind of stuff.
But when their client goes back and they’re doing better their blood pressure is better their cholesterol is better, their diabetes is better, their pen has gone, their thyroid is better. What they say to their client automatically is, I don’t know what you’re doing but keep doing whatever you’re doing because you’re doing great. It’s like streamline their whole life so they feel better but also put more money in their pocket so that they can streamline whatever regiment they’re on. Because it’s a pain taking a bunch of pills. I don’t want, if you don’t want to be on a bunch of pharmaceuticals, I don’t want you want to bunch of supplements either. So we want to figure out in a methodical way exactly what’s right for you and your body and put the highest quality for the lowest cost on the table for you and that’s my goal with people.
James: Yeah certainly, well look this is a new breed of doctor like you’ll start to realize that you are ahead of the curve. But I think there’s a yearning in all doctors for this and so you know what you said at the beginning is right, like our goal is to build a new medical system that works for everyone and that you know makes this kind of care available to everyone. The first phase in that is facilitating doctors like yourself, first of all doctors to come and learn about this health creation because it is a new thing and they weren’t taught about it in school, you know help them get in a position where they can do it every day.
Then our next phase is really to connect the supply and demand, right. There’s always demand for this care, the supply is here. It’s a bit jumbled because it’s all kind of somebody do take insurance some people don’t take insurance, some people have a membership, some people have packages. So we will be you know looking to facilitate and make that process a lot easier and allow you to you know to focus on just the things that you’re really good at and so I think you know we’re starting to see that come together and you know some exciting things in the future too.
Dr. Veronica: So next steps for you, what are you planning that we should look forward to because you always got something on the table, we know that.
James: Yeah you know I got a few exciting things, so this summer we’re going to- I did a TED talk a couple years in Ganci which is a tiny island in between England and France. They have very exciting projects in the works which I was sort of help to start the conversation on which is could Ganci be the first country to hit 100, life expectancy of 100, right. Because Ganci is only 60,000 thousand people, so it’s like a small town in America, so you could really think that you could get there much quicker with only 60,000 and they’re already four years ahead of America.
I think there’s 82, America is like 77 or 78 and so they’re you know they’re seventh in the world right now. So we’re going to take a team over there, a team of doctors we’re going to do some counting and we’re going to essentially work with the community to give some of these skills in there and see what we can do to help them grow their life expectancy through all different types of different types of health creation.
Dr. Veronica: You keep saying community, community we have that community. That’s a big thing that you’re talking about. Why do you keep saying community, community what’s to think about community?
James: Now there’s another reason like first age is you know something that’s always been in my world that a couple years ago at the IFM annual conference I saw this talk by Dr. George Slavish and it really changed my whole world forever because he’s a guy who’s studying the effects of social isolation and community essentially on health. And what he’s seen and what they’ve done with their recessional, human social genomics is that the quality and quantity of your social relationships a bigger predictor of death and disease than why you eat your smoking and exercise which we’ve commonly thought of like the biggest three things that you can affect your health outcomes.
So to give you an example there’s this idea of targeted rejection where there’s an intentional break of a bond, of a social bond like you maybe you have a divorce or you have you know you get fired from work or whether one person gets taken from a social structure. In those times your risk of depression will go up 21 times as opposed to two times if you’re just happened to be like in a group that gets fired all at the same time. It’s a targeted rejection.
So you know it’s that big a factor the question we, the next question we have to ask ourselves is who is going to solve that because a hospital is totally incapable of solving that. Pharmaceuticals totally incapable of solving that and so I think that the integrative medicine the future the functional medicine practices of the future will solve that through the creation of new relationships between patients who want to get themselves well.
So you know there’s all kinds of ways in which we’re seeing this rollout you know in person in practice in telemedicine groups, in online support groups, in you know real connections around, places in the community. Like cross fit co-working spaces, gyms. You know all these kind of places where people actually are and facilitating relationships in that kind of environment. So I’m very excited to see you know how we can be a leader in that conversation because I really don’t think there are any other parts of the medical system are well set up to solve that problem.
Dr. Veronica: Yes so just like I was saying it’s great when I’m as close to my clients as I am because if they disappear or something happens they reach out to me and then I’m part of their social network. I have a client, somebody who has been my client hasn’t seen him for a while and I’m like, “hey I haven’t seen for a while and I miss you, let’s go out to dinner.” And so how often would your doctor think about calling you and saying, “hey let’s go out to dinner, I haven’t seen you in a long time and I just want to hear about how you’re doing”
And so the luxury of doing medicine like that so that you have a personal relationship with your practitioner is the way it should be for everyone. People complain when they walk in, my doctor is a jerk they don’t care about me they don’t have time for me. There are, a lot of times doctors are just trying to survive because they don’t like having five or seven minutes with people either, but in order for them to be able to get to the end of the day, they’ve got to give you five or seven minutes or they’ll be there all night and then the people in the waiting room will be yelling and screaming and hollering and complaining.
So it’s creating, to me it’s not just the community of people but what they have been like, I’ve been through a divorce I got depressed, very I was laying on the ground thinking I was going to die with no support network around me, felt like I was abandoned by my church and so the people who were supposed to be loving and compassionate were exactly the people who turned their back and walked over me at that time. Wow, what a depression and because I was a doctor there was really nobody there to rescue me. Because you’re a doctor you’re good you got it.
So knowing about, I’m also reach out to people when I know there’s something going on because I remember what it felt like myself but I also know that they have a higher risk of getting sick and all of that while these traumas and dramas are going on in their life and if I can reach out to them and say, “hey what do you need, how can I help you?” And so it’s the time, having the time to be able to connect with people is what we need more and I think all the clients crave it, doctors crave that too.
I like it when my clients say to me you’re the best doctor I ever had and the only thing that I’ve done to touch them is give them a hug and they say to me you’re the best doctor I’ve ever had. Think about how that makes you feel as a practitioner. This is about we need to boost more doctors up in leadership to realize that this is what’s going to save America. If we want to save America for what it’s going through now, we need more doctors to be boosted up and instead of investing more in drugs and hospitals we need to invest more in the practices of practitioners who are giving this type of care that’s going to keep the community cohesive and well. So I commend you for doing what you’re doing it’s wonderful keep doing it, keeping contact with the world and keep doing TED talks it’s so wonderful. Thank you so much.
James: Such a pleasure to be here and the same to you keep going you know your example is amazing of your patients but is also amazing for all the doctors who are scared to come over and they would like to see you know when they see doctors living their passion and you know really loving their job, that’s the best example that we can give. So the same back to you.
Dr. Veronica: Oh I love when I’m talking to clients now. I use to sometimes dread going in the office, dread it. My patients loved me but now when getting on the phone with people and doing video conferencing even when I am in person with them. I enjoy going to see people all the time it’s fun I’m relaxed they are getting better results than I’ve ever seen, so I’m happy that I found this. Before I even knew what functional medicine was I started doing it and I’m happy that I found it. So people like you who get the word out keep doing it.
James: Thank you.
Dr. Veronica: James Maskell evolution of medicine. Where do people go to find out more?
James: Check out the functional forum is functionalforum.com you can see all of our all the episodes on our You Tube channel. But if you just Google functional form you find them and you know my book is The Evolution of Medicine you can get it on Amazon and you know I would love it if you know patients could give that book so that doctors and doctors could give that to each other. Ask your doctor if the evolution medicine might be right them.
Dr. Veronica: Absolutely James Maskell, functional forum, The Evolution of Medicine, your book. Thank you so much for being on the Wellness Revolution.
Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life, visit drveronica.com. See you all next week, take care.
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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