Six years ago, Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, 37, practiced traditional family medicine. He saw 30 patients a day, spending an average of seven minutes with each. He diagnosed, prescribed and moved on. He operated a busy practice and was positioned to follow the standard model for a physician’s success.
Then something changed.
Professionally, things were going well; but physically, Gladd felt the need for improvement. Thinking that losing weight could help him feel better, he started cutting calories to make it happen. It worked, but he was starving. He decided to focus on the food he ate rather than the calories he consumed. Doing so, he discovered firsthand the medical benefits of nutrition and lifestyle management. For the first time in years, he felt great.
Gladd dug deeper into the reasons behind his own transformation and discovered the philosophy of integrative medicine. Formally defined as the intelligent combination of conventional and complementary therapies, integrative medicine is a philosophy and practice that takes the whole person into account in order to heal disease and promote health. Conventional medicine, on the other hand, often functions primarily on disease management.
Convinced of its value, Gladd completed a two-year fellowship at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Now, when a patient comes to Gladd’s office with a problem, his goal is not only to heal the ailment, but also to prevent it from happening again.
“We spend our time trying to answer the why,” says Gladd.
A person’s health is significantly impacted by lifestyle factors such as nutrition, stress and environment. So it is critical for an integrative physician to form a partnership with the patient and empower him to make changes that will positively affect his wellbeing. Often lasting over an hour, visits are educational and content-intense for both the patient and the physician. The patient shares information about his habits, stressors and daily routines, and the physician offers suggestions for making changes or adjustments that may have a favorable affect on the patient’s health.
While people faced with a long list of things to change may find this prospect daunting, even taking a single step can make a difference. For example, someone who normally skips breakfast can realize significant benefits simply by adding a healthy breakfast to his daily regimen. Eating a sensible morning meal can eliminate mid-morning hunger pangs that might otherwise lead to overeating at lunch. In turn, the resulting lighter lunch may leave him feeling less tired in the afternoon, allowing him more energy for evening activities.
Nutrition, in fact, plays a huge role in a person’s well-being.
“If health is a priority,” he says, “then nutrition has to be a priority.”
Gladd wishes more people would read labels and adopt a diet that revolves around whole foods produced locally and organically in order to promote their own health.
“This may not be convenient,” he says. “But neither is diabetes, cancer or heart disease.”
To spend more time with his patients, Gladd must see fewer of them per day. The traditional American insurance model, however, pays for procedures, surgeries and drugs, not time spent. Rather than giving up crucial time with his patients, Gladd chooses to forgo dealing with insurance companies. He bills patients directly, and most of his services are not covered by insurance.
Gladd understands that visits not covered by insurance are expensive for patients. Accordingly, he works hard to get them healthy and then work toward the goal of zero: zero medicines, procedures, visits, and ultimately, dollars. His goal, he says, is to put himself out of business.
In the meantime, Gladd uses nontraditional ways to meet with patients to help manage expenses. He offers video consultations and email visits as lower-cost alternatives to office visits. He also uses social media tools such as Facebook and a blog (found at gladdmd.com/blog) to provide tips and advice to the general public.
“Most people simply need a good conversation about lifestyle change,” says Gladd. “It doesn’t take much to make an improvement. It’s pretty easy to take one step.”
He ought to know; he did it himself.
Owner(s): Jeffrey Gladd, MD
Address: 4930 Illinois Road, Suite C1, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804
Number of Employees: 6
Products & Services: Integrative medical consultations, nutrition counseling, nutritional supplements and herbs, and lab assessments, specialty labs, bioidentical hormone replacement, and functional digestive testing