As the world continues through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become abundantly clear that health care needs to evolve to meet patients where they are. While the pandemic has underscored the weaknesses in the U.S. health care system, there’s some hope that the industry is on the precipice of a new, more hopeful era. According to experts at Thorne HealthTech, a company specializing in the health and wellness space that takes a scientific approach to personalized health, this shift is long overdue

Dr. Nathan Price, CEO of Onegevity, one of Thorne HealthTech’s vertical brands, says that, traditionally, health care focuses on a “somewhat backwards” aspect of well-being and health. “We’ve set up a system where we always gauge prevention from the standpoint of saving money,” he said. “It creates this really odd situation where, economically, we value years of sick life more than we value years of healthy life. And so, what we’re really focused on with scientific wellness is, ‘how do you optimize the years of healthy life that you get?’”

Science-driven and preventative

The term “scientific wellness” is what Price and Thorne HealthTech CEO, Paul Jacobson, use to describe the company’s personalized approach to health and wellness that is science-driven and helps people take control of their own health. “There should be no difference in a supplement recommendation versus a drug recommendation when it comes to at least trying to apply as much science behind it as possible,” Jacobson said. 

Both Price and Jacobson agree that, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are taking more control of their health and striving to find ways to stay healthy, and they want to focus on empowering individuals to maintain and extend the health span of their lives.

According to Price and Jacobson that means that individuals would need to opt in to either some kind of questionnaire, blood or saliva test, or other type of test so that their specific data can be used to create a more customized health care experience. Armed with that data, medical professionals can work alongside the individual to make a more comprehensive plan, rather than simply addressing the problems they present when they arrive in the office. 

Incorporating wellness programs in the doctor’s office

“I think that with COVID, one of the big changes we’re seeing is taking place in the primary place it needs to happen, and that’s in the medical community,” Jacobson said. “Physicians have begun to adopt a wellness philosophy to their practice, and it’s simply because either they’re reading the same data we are and they see how important it is, or they’re being dragged, kicking and screaming by their patients, into some sort of a wellness solution. These are people who understand they need to take care of themselves, but they want to do it with the blessing and help of a doctor. And I think that until we begin to really see a meaningful change in the medical community and really get believers, it’s going to be hard to convince a lot of individuals that they’re supposed to do the same thing, even though it’s happening.” 

Jacobson and Price point to the evolution of wellness services popping up inside doctors’ offices as an example of the shifting perspective on health.

“We’re starting to see medical practices establishing themselves in buildings in New York City to make it easier for companies to come in and get seen by a doctor,” Jacobson said. “They’re focusing on prevention and wellness, and they’re offering all sorts of other services like acupuncture, etcetera. Some of them are even venture funded, so you’re starting to see a change here that you wouldn’t have seen, coming out of COVID.”

Both Price and Jacobson agree that the pandemic has continued to roil the medical and professional world, but they’re hopeful that the future will be bright.

“It comes down to being able to personalize instead of treating people all the same,” Jacobson continued. “In order to really try to treat people effectively, we have to begin to look at the data that allows us to personalize or participate in what we’re calling scientific wellness.

While these changes are slowly taking hold in the medical community, it remains to be seen whether or not health providers take these pandemic lessons to heart and real change in the medical community takes hold for the long term.