Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast! In Part 3 of our Group Visit Series, we sit down with Tawny Jones, chief administrator at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. In this episode, Tawny dives into the creation of the Functioning for Life group visit program, an idea that sprouted during her commute to work (where some of us do our best thinking!), and how the program has transformed the lives of thousands of patients and counting. The influence of the Cleveland Clinic cannot be underestimated, and the team at the Center for Functional Medicine is leading the charge toward improved patient care and outcomes.

In a transformative 30 minutes, Tawny breaks down the Functioning for Life program, from its creation in 2014 to its current example of the successful combination of medical management and clinical implementation. In addition to real patient success stories, Tawny shares solid data to support the effectiveness of the program, and what the future holds for implementing group visits in medical institutions on a global scale. Highlights include:

  • The catalysts for creating the Functioning for Life program
  • A breakdown of the data backing up this highly successful program (it boasts an 80% retention rate!) and how it has become the “Trojan horse” in bringing functional medicine to the masses
  • What group visits look like from a business perspective, and the potential for functional medicine to be made available on insurance
  • What’s next for group visits at the Cleveland Clinic, and how similar programs can be deployed at other medical institutions
  • Where you can learn more about Functioning for Life and implementing functional medicine in your practice
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this podcast:
clevelandclinic.org/functionalmedicine
clevelandclinic.org/departments/functional-medicine/programs/functioning-for-life-appointments

James Maskell: Hello and welcome to the podcast. I am absolutely thrilled for today’s podcast session. Today, we talk with Tawny Jones. She is the chief administrator at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. We had an incredible half-an-hour discussion about the creation of their Functioning for Life group visit.

James Maskell: You’re going to hear about how the idea came about. You’re going to talk about how group visits work on the cross-section of medical management and clinical implementation. You’re going to hear about the Functioning for Life reunions and all of the things that have gone into making this the most transformational project in functional medicine and in medicine generally. The results are astounding, the data is incredible. It was the best half an hour that I’ve ever spent on this podcast. I know you’re going to enjoy it. Enjoy!

James Maskell: A warm welcome to the podcast, Tawny Jones! Welcome, Tawny.

Tawny Jones: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

James Maskell: I’m super excited to be here. If there’s one project that has sort of followed the timeline, or mapped the timeline of the Evolution of Medicine, it’s the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. For those of you who are just listening now for the first time, on the fourth episode of the Functional Forum back in May 2014, Dr. Mark Hyman came on to the show to announce that the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine was going to happen. We’ve been tracking it ever since. Last October, I had the chance to actually visit the center, take a tour around, meet with some of the practitioners. So I’m really, really excited to have you here on the podcast as part of this series on group visits.

James Maskell: Why don’t we just get started? Do you want to just give us a quick sort of overview of your role at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine?

Tawny Jones: Sure. Thank you, James. This is my 19th year with the clinic, actually. I’ve had the privilege of working as a leader in the organization in various medical and surgical departments. But for the past four and a half years, I’ve been the administrator for the Center for Functional Medicine here at the clinic. We are the first in the country to actually have a functional medicine practice in an academic medical center where we were able to introduce the systems-based patient care model to address the root cause of chronic disease to an organization.

Tawny Jones: My role involves clinical operations and driving our strategic business plan forward, which includes spreading the functional medicine care model throughout the organization. We do some innovative care delivery models that we work within our practice and also work with other institutes. We are very focused on community-based initiatives that teach lifestyle and behavior change. Our goal is to truly transform healthcare by empowering patients to take control of their health.

James Maskell: Amazing, that’s beautiful. Obviously, there’s a lot to say about the program. If you’re listening to this, and you haven’t seen the Functional Forum that we did while we did the tour, you can go back and watch that. There’s so much to talk about because that vision is so powerful, and so exciting, and so necessary. But I really want to focus in here, on this podcast, about the group program because I’m super excited about it, and there’s so much to talk about just on that element of what you’ve been up to.

James Maskell: Can you give us a little bit of a background, because from my understanding, the group program wasn’t really the plan at the beginning, and this is something that sort of you came up with along the way? Can you share us a little bit about the group program, and what was the importance to start it?

Tawny Jones: Yeah, this is an interesting story. Since we opened in October 2014, we’ve had about 11,000 patients in our program. Patients coming from 48 states and 29 countries to seek our services. Some of that is the Cleveland Clinic brand, but a big part of that is the functional medicine within the Cleveland Clinic. When you marry those two, patients are jumping over each other to get in. By the end of 2016, we had about 2,000 patients waiting to see the five physicians that we had on staff. The math simply didn’t work. We were at this critical juncture where patients were outnumbering the providers at a pace that wasn’t even manageable.

Tawny Jones: After 19 years, I hadn’t even seen…or at that point, 15 years, I hadn’t even seen anything like that. People were on a waitlist for about 12 to 18 months, and the frustrations resonated really deeply with our team. As you know, at the Cleveland Clinic putting patients first is our North Star, and the patient experience is paramount, so we needed a better strategy for seeing patients. This one-on-one model wasn’t working. That was our original plan, but it wasn’t working for the volume of patients we had. But here’s the good news, so in parallel with our clinical practice, we had launched Dr. Mark Hyman’s and Pastor Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan program in about a dozen churches throughout the City of Cleveland. James, I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Daniel Plan—

James Maskell: Yeah, super familiar.

Tawny Jones: —but it’s a faith-based wellness program inspired by the Book of Daniel in the Bible, focused on bringing people together in small groups for six weeks to help them adapt to healthier lifestyles. Our team of clinicians had partnered with many of the churches in the area to launch this program. The feedback was amazing. People were losing weight, their blood pressure was lower, they were getting off medications. Our team was actively engaged in that process with the patients, so they were familiar with the value of the group model.

Tawny Jones: Now, this is a long story, so have a little patience with me. One day, as I’m driving to work, and I have my most creative ideas on my hour-long commute to and from work, I thought, “How do we bring the essence of functional medicine to a group model and include the components of nutrition and health coaching in a way that leads to sustainable behavior change?” I was thinking, “We could deliver this program in a systematic way that would teach patients to move from surviving with their chronic condition to thriving and functioning for life.” So the Functioning for Life program was born. I actually named the program Functioning for Life.

Tawny Jones: It would morph into this thoughtfully designed 10-week patient experience with eight to 10 individuals in a group to address common conditions such as weight, diabetes, autoimmune, digestive disorders, pain, migraine, women’s health. So I immediately started to mind map this idea, and I called our then-medical director, Dr. Patrick Hanaway, who you know well, and shared how we should customize this program by disease state and create this meaningful and powerful experience that would literally transform the lives of our patients. He loved it. He thought it was absolutely brilliant.

Tawny Jones: Then, I thought about, “How do we keep patients coming back for 10 weeks?” Again, this is a 10-week-long program. And, “How would we manage that?” We had to develop a strategy around that. When we designed it, we designed it in a way that we delivered just enough information to entice patients to come back each week, and each session would build on the week prior. So, by the end of the 10 weeks, they’d have this full toolbox for their health that included everything they need and should know about self-management of their condition, whole foods diet, the effects of nutritional deficiencies on their health, stress management, relaxation techniques, how to develop healthy sleeping patterns, and the power of movement.

Tawny Jones: Then, we take it a step further and do this deep-dive explanation of laboratory testing. When you go to your regular physician’s office, generally, they tell you what labs to get, and they tell you if they’re good or bad, but they don’t explain to you what they mean to your health. So we’d spend time doing that with the patient, and we’d also talk about how supplementation could actually improve their health for those individuals who were deficient.

Tawny Jones: Again, Dr. Hanaway and Dr. Hyman thought it was an amazing and brilliant idea, and so we started to push it forward. Now, I’m going to give a lot of credit to my colleague, our education director Dr. Michelle Beidelschies, who I passed this idea over to create facilitation tools and a training strategy for our clinicians. Because it’s great to have all of this information, but how do we deploy it in a way that’s effective? I will say she exceeded my expectations, all of our expectations, and we were able to launch Functioning for Life in March 2017. So, for our practice, it became the answer for improving our patient experience.

James Maskell: Wow, it’s a great story. It’s interesting, all the way through this, we’ve heard that innovation in group visit creation comes out of necessity, right?

Tawny Jones: Yeah, yeah.

James Maskell: You had to see these patients, you had to work out a way to do it, and so you just…to work it out. Back when I was at Integrative Health Symposium, I heard Dr. Hyman share some of the initial data because, obviously, it’s important. Does it work? It sounds great, and intuitively I think a lot of people listening will be, “Okay, I think this is going to work.” Do you have some of the data you can share with us from the first group that have gone through?

Tawny Jones: Absolutely. There’s the data, and then there’s the backdrop of where this data comes from, and to your point, the impact that the data has on the individuals in the program, but to those individuals who were interested in deploying similar programs, or mirroring what we’ve done here. Just to give you some history, we put about 1,000 patients through this Functioning for Life program. About 4% of those patients actually traveled from another state, that’s how powerful it is. Autoimmune and weight management are our most heavily attended program, which makes sense considering 50 million Americans have at least one autoimmune disease, and we know about the obesity epidemic. We see about 50% of the patients in the programs are within those two cohorts of the program.

Tawny Jones: The retention rate is actually shocking, about 80% of the patients are coming back for every appointment over the 10 weeks. You rarely hear that in a group setting. Generally, there’s a drop-off, but for the most part, our patients do continue to come back. I would say it’s because they’ve sought health services elsewhere, and they felt like this is their last hope. They recognize that there are very few programs like Functioning for Life. It’s really the intersection between medical management and social connection. People are tired of being handed a treatment plan without an execution plan, and handing them an after-visit summary that doesn’t teach them, or provide the tools for them to successfully manage their disease, doesn’t help them move the needle forward.

Tawny Jones: This group model absolutely does. Let’s dive a little bit into the data collection that we’re doing. We work with PROMIS, don’t know how many people are familiar with the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, which is a National Institute of Health-validated tool for measuring physical, mental, and social health of individuals with chronic disease. We use this tool because it’s relevant for the assessment of symptoms and functions over all disease states. But in using the PROMIS tool with our patients, we’re finding that our participants are experiencing substantial positive improvements in both their physical and mental health scores.

Tawny Jones: Actually, by the end of the 10-week period, approximately 40% of those patients experience a five-point or higher improvement in their PROMIS score. Now, when we look at this five-point improvement, this is really considered clinically meaningful change. This is what Dr. Hyman was speaking about previously. It’s hard to move the needle one point in the PROMIS scores, especially in a short period of time like 10 weeks. But again, 40% of our patients are moving to a five-point or greater change in just the time period they’re in this program. With that information, it really made us aware of the fact we needed to do some retrospective and prospective studies that examined both the short- and long-term changes in those PROMIS health scores.

Tawny Jones: But the preliminary findings definitely demonstrate that this model of care truly improves our patients’ health-related quality of life. We attribute that to the one, functional medicine approach; two, the social connection that happens between the patients. These individuals are getting 14 hours of educational curriculum from a dietician, a health coach, a physician, or a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner. And they’re appreciative that the team of caregivers, or team of providers, are truly invested in helping them to achieve the highest expression of health.

James Maskell: Yeah, it’s amazing. One of the stats that Mark pulled out at the Integrative Health Symposium was the percentage of people that didn’t need to see the doctor after they went through the group. Because I imagine, I mean, just being the Cleveland Clinic, and who you are, this is not your average human that’s walking through the door. To come, these are very sick individuals.

Tawny Jones: Very, very sick individuals, and people who have been in the system, and seen five or six specialists, and on dozens of medications. They bring in shopping bags of medications to these appointments. To his point, some of the sickest individuals come to this program, and more than half don’t necessarily need a one-on-one visit. Actually, many of the patients opt into an additional shared medical appointment. We have a menu of shared medical appointments for them to choose from, and many of them will just opt into various programs just because they want that group connection. They want that support system. They want that advocacy that happens within the group model.

James Maskell: Absolutely. Yeah, once you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to think about going back to one-on-one medicine because you have this whole support team. Maybe just to go a bit further into that, obviously, there’s a physical result from doing this. There’s the improvement in health, half the people don’t need the doctor afterwards. It’s incredible. Is there a psychosocial impact on the patients that you’ve witnessed that you wouldn’t see in the data necessarily?

Tawny Jones: Yeah. Well, many patients that start the program are really reticent about sharing their health issues, and that’s because they lack self-confidence. Others have had to combat the social stigmas associated with managing their disease. They just really have a hard time unpacking all of the layers. But I will say, by the time they’re halfway through this program, they find their voice, they’re empowered, the feelings of loneliness dissipates, they’re developing relationships, and they’re encouraging each other to go on. We actually invite patients back to tell us their personal stories at what we call the Functioning for Life Reunion, and we hold these every two to three months.

Tawny Jones: Three things consistently happen at the reunion. The first is, we have a couple of individuals share their story, and the room is filled with tears of joy because the stories are both powerful, but relatable. Then, number two, you always see high-fiving and cheering that takes place because, finally, many of these individuals have overcome their health challenges. Then, third, you see that the providers in real time can see the fruits of their labor, which really encourages them to take on the next group and to continue in this way of thinking, in this mind space.

Tawny Jones: Actually, about 30% of the people who are in our Functioning for Life programs are referred by a friend or a family member who has gone through the program. That lets us know that people are not only happy with the results themselves, but they’re telling their friends, and family, and co-workers to join as well. So we have continued to iterate around what programs are necessary to support patients. Again, we have a menu of different programs for patients to choose from, Functional Ketogenics, our Get Functional, which is actually based on Dr. Hyman’s 10-Day Detox, and then the list goes on. I won’t go through them all just here, but the list goes on.

James Maskell: That’s awesome. Yeah, I love all of that. I mean, I’m glad you mentioned the provider side because we came through for that tour back in October, and one of the people who was put in front of me was Logan, who was one of the PAs working there. She had never done a group visit, she knew nothing about functional medicine, she was just a PA coming to work at the Cleveland Clinic. Suddenly, she’s doing these groups and facilitating them. From what she said, she felt like this had changed the way that she viewed medicine, and it was a transformational experience for her. Is that typical?

Tawny Jones: Logan is absolutely right. I think the group model is transforming health care in general. It’s more of a plug-and-play type of program. I also like to think that Functioning for Life is a gold standard among group programs because we don’t only teach you the curriculum to teach the patients, we empower you with tools to be a great facilitator. That’s equally important because if you can’t connect with the patients, you can’t get them talking, then none of the other matters. So how do we do this? It really helps our providers showcase the components of functional medicine in a way that’s digestible and understandable for patients.

Tawny Jones: I don’t know if you’ve actually gone through a functional medicine appointment through one of our appointments, but patients get easily overwhelmed learning about the root cause of their disease and the many changes they need to make. But in the 10-week program, it helps them cope with this idea much better. Our goal in bringing people into this program is to help them reclaim their life. We understand that many conditions and diseases don’t have an end point, but we want to teach the patients that if they want to be changing their health in a big way, then they’re going to need to make big changes.

Tawny Jones: From our perspective, it doesn’t matter how long it takes a patient to make a change in their health as long as we encourage them to never stop trying. We don’t give up on them. We might switch our message with how we’re working with them individually, but we never switch our goal of helping them reach their goal. We make sure the facilitators, such as Logan, that they’re aware of this. The program really creates an opportunity for them to share and connect with patients in a way where the group becomes part of the medicine, so patients lose that mindset that, “My provider is going to make me better.” The group model helps them unpack the layers of frustration, and it also gives the providers a sense of, “You’re not in this alone, and I’m not in this alone. We have a team who will support you through this.”

Tawny Jones: So to Logan’s point, yes, this was transformational for her. She now gets to see her patients getting better and transforming their health in real time. People are getting off medication, losing 20 to 30 pounds in 10 weeks, reversing their chronic conditions, and it’s an efficient and effective way of delivering care. So for a novice practitioner coming into a practice like functional medicine where they’re trying to do so much and learn so much about how to deliver the best care, it was a very easy transition for her to start these programs, so she gets it.

James Maskell: Yeah, beautiful. I love that. I mean, I’d just love to ask you, I’m sure tears of joy, and high-five, and cheering is typical at the Cleveland Clinic, but maybe not in most medical centers. What do the rest of the people at the Cleveland Clinic think is going on then? What’s been sort of the spread of the ideas to other areas of the clinic that maybe don’t know what’s happening in the sense of a functional medicine?

Tawny Jones: We’re actually partnering with several other areas in the organization. Just recently, with our urological institute, on a minority men group model. We’re bringing minority men in with hypertension, diabetes, prostate cancer issues, and we bring them in for a six-week group program. They absolutely loved it. When the program ended, actually, it ended, and they were asking for more. So by partnering with other areas, they’re starting to see the importance of doing these type of group models where you incorporate nutrition and health coaching. Cleveland Clinic, you may know, has done shared medical appointments since 1999, so it’s not a foreign concept here.

Tawny Jones: I think the way we do it, again, is gold standard here in functional medicine. I may be a little bit biased, but just judging from the patient feedback. I’ll give you a recent testimonial. Dr. Hyman and I just celebrated our patient Janice, who gets excited about us telling her story and how she came to the Functioning for Life program with congestive heart failure, fatty liver, hemoglobin A1c at 11, on blood pressure medication, her cholesterol was over 350. But in a few weeks of the program, she was put on an anti-inflammatory whole foods diet, low in sugar and starch, and immediately she saw her levels normalize. She had lost 43 pounds in three months.

Tawny Jones: A year later, she’s one of our biggest advocates. When she’s going back to her specialist and telling them that a year later she’s lost 116 pounds, and all her conditions are reversed, and she’s now medication-free, and saved over $20,000 a year in healthcare costs, people who are other areas, other physicians are interested. “How did you do that? How do you make that happen?” We get these type of inquiries all the time. “Can you show us how you do it? Can you help us to understand what is working with your patients? That’s so unique.”

James Maskell: Yeah, it’s amazing. I’m super excited about that. That seems, to me, that it’s almost like a Trojan horse into the middle of the center where you get to do all this amazing work. I mean, how it spreads out from there, super exiting. I mean, I guess the biggest question is, where you see it going from here? I mean, the Cleveland Clinic has worldwide recognition as a leader in medicine. This is clearly a massive innovation in the delivery of care, specifically for diseases that have a lifestyle component, which is the majority of chronic illness. So where do you see it going from here? How do you see it sort of flowing from where you’re doing now? And how does it reach the rest of the state of Ohio, and the rest of America, and the rest of the world?

Tawny Jones: Big vision and thanks to Dr. Hyman for having that big vision and being able to drive these types of initiatives to the next level. I’m very appreciative of his efforts in helping us to move this program beyond just the Center for Functional Medicine. We’re looking to expand it both nationally and internationally. I think our playbook is too good not to share across the healthcare industry. We’ve fused medical management of chronic disease with social connection, and it’s a game changer. I know it’s not new, it’s not a new concept, but it is a game changer for healthcare. In an era where we’re looking for high-quality, cost-effective means of delivering sustainable behavior change in patients, and reversing chronic disease, and lowering overall healthcare cost, you need programs like this.

Tawny Jones: Our goal is to commercialize. We are partnering with the Institute for Functional Medicine on a commercialization of the Functioning for Life program. We’re creating sustainability programs from this. We actually have a Functioning for Life Nourish, which is focused on nutrition after you’ve completed the 10-week program. We don’t want you to get off-track. We don’t want you to fall back to your old habits, so Nourish helps to keep people on track. We have a Functioning for Life Meditation and Mindfulness class we’re going to be sharing with the other individuals at the Cleveland Clinic and also outside of the Cleveland Clinic. Then, there is a mind-body connection that we don’t want to lose sight of because, after all, it’s all connected.

Tawny Jones: We want to get this messaging and this product out to consumers and other healthcare organizations who are interested. So absolutely, we intend to spread what we find as a highly effective and sustainable model of care. There’s about 14 hours of educational curriculum embedded in the 10 weeks, and we all know that the sacrosanct way of one-on-one patient visits is obsolete. It just no longer works, and the group model is truly a solution to healthcare. So yes, we want to share that and continue sharing that.

James Maskell: One of the things that always made sense to me that I think what you’re talking about there is, the way I sort of envision it is like a funnel. You have a funnel that the top is very wide, and the bottom is small. Ultimately, you put all the patients in at the funnel at the top, and they come in through the group program. And there’s going to be a certain percentage, it sounds like between half and two-thirds over there, that just get better from the groups, and they don’t need any more care. They’re just part of this group and getting better. Then, there probably are still some people who need that kind of individualized attention. But you’re sort of delivering, and dare I say, I guess rationing that one-on-one attention based on the progress of the patient through the groups.

James Maskell: To me, that just seems like the most sensible way of organizing care. I’ve advocated for it in functional medicine practices for the last few years, but what I feel is about to happen is that the credibility that you guys bring just from having the name Cleveland Clinic is going to give the sort of stamp of approval that, yes, group visits is the best way to start. This is the way to do it, and you can save the one-on-one functional medicine doctor appointments with someone like a Dr. Hyman, and Dr. Hanaway, or this network or army of practitioners that we’ve been building for the last four years. Ultimately, there’s an efficient way of using that one-on-one time so it’s only delivered to the people who need it most.

Tawny Jones: Absolutely, you are spot on. The other piece of that is, those individuals who no longer need a one-on-one visit, they become champions. They become advocates for the individuals in their communities. They go to their social clubs, or their churches, or their families, and they bring back what they’ve learned. I think, in addition to sorting through who actually needs a one-on-one visit and who’s appropriate to go through the shared medical appointment visit, one of the goals, or one of the things that we’ve seen, is that the individuals who have gone through are now better champions for others.

Tawny Jones: They’re on Facebook creating their own communities to talk about health and wellness. They’re doing their own support systems and outside of our program. They’re letting us know. They’re writing us and letting us know, “Hey, we’re still getting together as a group. We meet every week at the coffee house, and we just talk about our challenges, and we continue to support each other.” This is far more sustainable. Again, I go back to, we give a patient an after-visit summary, and we send them on their way, that’s our traditional way of managing patient information. It’s not helping. It’s not giving them the tools that they need to be successful, and this group model does.

James Maskell: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s super cool. If you don’t mind getting granular for a moment, there’s one other area that I think…because this podcast goes to practitioners, mainly. I mean, we’ve built our community around doctors and practitioners doing functional medicine. One thing that Mark said at the IHS was just about sort of the profitability of doing groups versus doing one-on-one care. I know that doing functional medicine on insurance has typically been something that has not really been that possible for the average doctor in the street in time gone past because you can’t bill enough for the extended time that you spend with a patient to actually make it profitable.

James Maskell: Can you just share with us, if you’re able to, just a little bit about sort of what this looks like from a business perspective? Is this potentially a way that functional medicine could be available on insurance sort of in the bigger picture?

Tawny Jones: Absolutely, our program is billed to insurance. Our patients do use their insurance. We’re hoping to use this data to create more energy around better insurance coverage for services such as health coaching and additional nutrition visits. I think more and more insurance companies are getting onboard, but there are still some insurers who don’t cover but six nutrition visits. They don’t cover nutrition visits with the exception of certain disease states. We need to move beyond that. Nutrition is a critical component of our health. Food is medicine. We didn’t make that up last week. That’s been around for centuries. Let’s move beyond this restriction of what services are available to people and give people what they need.

Tawny Jones: Currently, we are billing to insurance. It is reimbursable services. These are medical-managed appointments, far more cost-effective to bring in eight to 10 individuals together, and have a facilitator oversee all of them, and do a limited evaluation and management visit with them, and bill that to insurance companies. But to your point, the functional medicine model of care in general is not reimbursed well. That should also change, but the group model was a way that practitioners can be profitable in how they deliver the care and how they’re reimbursed for services.

Tawny Jones: So absolutely, I strongly encourage health care practices, clinic practices who are doing shared models or group appointments to bill to the insurance company. These are billable services. It’s a matter of having the appropriate documentation, making sure you’re choosing the correct codes, making sure you’re doing a thorough evaluation of the patient and submitting that information to the insurance in compliance with the billing and coding guidelines. We do that here at the clinic.

James Maskell: Absolutely, that’s super important. Yeah, all the way through this podcast series, we’ve really heard from leaders in the group visit space in functional integrative medicine sharing some of the best practices for billing on insurance. So this is happening, this is really exciting, and I’m really thrilled that you guys have taken such leadership in bringing this to the next level. How can practitioners, who are listening to this, learn more? What do you see is the next step for anyone in our community who’s interested in finding out more about Functioning for Life?

Tawny Jones: Sure. Definitely, check out our website, ClevelandClinic.org/functionalmedicine. Our website is up-to-date and has a plethora of information on Functioning for Life and the other programs that we have available shared in group programs that we have available. Then, listen for the commercialized product just to come on the scene within the next six to eight months. We’re working pretty aggressively to get that underway. We know that the need is there. There’s a lot of work, energy, and effort that has gone into preparing the materials and creating a turnkey type of program for practices and practitioners.

Tawny Jones: So look out for that through the Institute for Functional Medicine. Dr. Hyman will continue to advocate and bring information to the functional medicine community about upcoming programs, and how they will be able to access this commercial product.

James Maskell: Beautiful. Well, that’s really exciting to hear. Thank you so much for the leadership to bring this. I’m absolutely thrilled. My personal feeling is that the group model will be the way that functional medicine makes it to the masses. When I look at on the landscape, I see that very few people in the world of value-based care, and employee health, and even Medicare, Medicaid, and sort of government programs really understand the power of the group, never mind the functional medicine.

James Maskell: Ultimately, there’s something really special when you take the functional medicine operating system and add it to the group. My hope is that if we can attach functional medicine operating system to groups and show that this is real value-based care, that ultimately the group model can be sort of like a Trojan horse to get functional medicine into every medical system, every hospital system, every private practice. Because it seems like the data is too compelling, the problem is too big to solve, and ultimately every functional medicine doctor in that community, when they’re building their practices, they’re only practicing one-on-one. That’s just limited as to the number of people that they can help financially, and just physically, efficiently. And efficiently—

Tawny Jones: Yeah, and think about the burnout. They’re burning themselves out. Our practitioners are outnumbered by patients, and so when we think about value-based care, we had better think about solutions such as group models. We’re going to run out of clinicians sooner than later. I completely agree with you that this is the way to get functional medicine embedded into the health care system in a way that hasn’t been done before.

James Maskell: …Wonderful. Well, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for taking the time to be here on the podcast, super excited to share this with the world. This has been the Group Visit Series on the Evolution of Medicine podcast. Go back and listen to the other ones if this is the first one that you’ve heard. We’ve had some incredible insight so far, but I think this is the most transformative just because of the gravitas and the credibility that the Cleveland Clinic has. Thank you, Tawny, for coming up with that on your commute. It’s funny how the most incredible ideas come with the most opportune moments going in traffic, driving through the Cleveland suburbs.

Tawny Jones: Absolutely.

James Maskell: This has been the Evolution of Medicine podcast. I’m your host, James Maskell. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

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