HEALTH SENTINEL: Local clinic offers telehealth services through kNew Health

The focus is on well care, not sick care.

kNew Health, which provides lifestyle coaching through a secure online portal called Hello Health, is aimed at wellness care rather than sickness treatment, says kNew founder Dr. Jeffrey Glad, a Fort Wayne integrative medicine specialist. Among other things, kNew coaches suggest what supplements or dietary changes may be needed to improve functioning of various body systems. The anti-nuclear antibody, or ANA, test helps identify issues within the immune system. (By Jennifer L. Boen for News-Sentinel.com)
When present in high concentrations, the amino acid homocysteine(cq) can be a marker for increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is one of many markers tested in the blood chemistry tests that are included in membership of a new lifestyle coaching service offered through GladdMD in Fort Wayne. (By Jennifer L. Boen for News-Sentinel.com)
Dr. Jeffrey Gladd(cq) of GladdMD in Fort Wayne has launched a new Web-based lifestyle coaching service, kNew(cq) Health, that aids individuals to take charge of their health through certified lifestyle coaches. Members get bi-weekly, 30-minute virtual visits, plus text messages, with their coach to improve factors that help them reach optimal health. Pictured on the computer screen is lead coach Tracy Harrison(cq) who works with Gladd to ensure lifestyle and medical issues are appropriately addressed. More info is available at gladdmd.com. (Photo by Jennifer L. Boen for News-Sentinel.com)

United States per capita total health-care costs increased from $1,762 in 1970 to $10,348 in 2016, according to analyses of federal data by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This country spends, on average, nearly twice as much as the world’s other wealthiest nations.

Yet despite the high costs, we are comparatively delivering inferior health outcomes.

Can that trajectory be changed? Fort Wayne integrative medicine specialist Dr. Jeffrey Gladd of GladdMD, 4930 Illinois Road, says yes, emphasizing it requires the will of the people to take charge of their own health and a system paradigm shift from sickness care to wellness care.

Known around the country for his think-out-of-the-box physician entrepreneurship and integration of technology, Gladd’s practice model since 2010 has been fee-for-service rather than dependence on insurance reimbursement, and the focus is on health promotion rather than disease treatment.

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Through a new telehealth-based model called kNew Health, Gladd’s reach now extends across the country. kNew members are matched with a lifestyle coach who “meets” with the member via a secure Web portal called Hello Health. Coaches are nurses or others with health-care backgrounds.

“We give people the tools to be engaged and to improve their health,” said Gladd, who in 2001 graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine and in 2009 completed an integrative medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona.

Today, he prefers the term functional medicine physician over integrative medicine. The functional medicine model uses a biology-based approach that focuses on the multifactorial root causes of disease, Gladd said. That approach recognizes the interconnection between the body’s systems and the role that lifestyle, genetics and the environment have on those systems.

The Cleveland Clinic in 2014 launched its Center for Functional Medicine in partnership with the Institute of Functional Medicine. Demand for services has been so great, the center has doubled in size since opening.

“It is an evidenced-based approach,” Gladd said. kNew members undergo extensive blood chemistry analyses to identify how the body’s systems are functioning. The lab findings guide the lifestyle coaches to aid members on action plans for needed lifestyle changes.

Coaches, all of whom are certified in functional medicine coaching, address such things as body mass index (BMI), sleep habits, level of exercise and stress reported by the member. Evidence-based supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be recommended, as well as dietary changes and stress-reduction strategies.

Gladd interprets lab results and oversees the lifestyle coaches but does not directly interact with members. Still, he emphasized, “Medical intervention may be needed.” In that case, coaches refer members to their doctor.

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kNew member Karen Raymond, 51, found out about the service when listening to a podcast. She was among the first to join. The northern Virginia resident had been dealing for many months with gastrointestinal issues, migraines and sleep problems.

“I had this brain fog and all these other issues. I’d been to traditional doctors. One of my frustrations is that I’d to go a doctor who spent 5 minutes and would say, ‘Here’s a pill for your ill,’ but it wasn’t doing anything,” Raymond recalled. “If I walked into a gastroenterologist’s office, all the focus was on this one thing.”

She even tried high-cost concierge medicine, and then happened upon kNew Health.

“Through blood chemistry, they realized they needed to target certain things,” she said, noting her coach suggested specific supplements and explained in detail what they were for. “I was already doing gluten free, but I wasn’t dairy free. They recommended dairy free.”

She now takes B vitamins and cat’s claw, an immune-boosting herb. “Cat’s claw has been amazing. Everyone around me has been sick, but I haven’t.”

Raymond’s severe migraines, which used to occur once or twice a month, are occurring every three to four months, at most. Periodically, she takes a regiment of supplements to detox her body, which Raymond said has “made me feel amazing.”

She now has bi-weekly 30-minute virtual visits with her coach, plus multiple text messaging interactions with her coach between virtual visits. Vitamins and other supplements can be ordered from Fullscript at a reduced cost through kNew. Though Raymond has health insurance through her job, she pays out of pocket for the kNew membership.

Gladd said the enrollment fee for kNew is $199, which includes the extensive blood chemistry. He has worked out a contract arrangement with LabCorp to get the testing done at a much lower cost than a person would get it done through a traditional medical setting that files for insurance reimbursement.

“kNew Health approaches things differently,” Raymond said. “It’s about helping your body to function well rather than medicate it. It’s a commitment, and there has to be some intrinsic motivation, but it’s so worth it. I feel like I did years ago.”

Jennifer L. Boen is a freelance writer who writes about the health field. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of News-Sentinel.com.

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