by Katherine Grill, PhD, Neuroscientist, Integrative & Behavioral Specialist,
Founder @ Neolth
Today’s clinic experience has a few vital flaws that prevent patients from receiving holistic, affordable, 24/7 individualized care. Making changes would not only improve patient experience and outcomes, but effectively combat the chronic disease epidemic.
Currently, healthcare is symptoms-based. Patients with chronic disease are assessed based on physical biomarkers and given treatments that address physical health: medications, medical procedures, even exercise and nutrition interventions. Standard of care does not include emotional support. What’s sorely missing from the clinic workflow, even missing from digital health interventions on the market, is holistic care for chronic diseases.
Imagine you are diagnosed with cancer, chronic pain, or heart disease. It’s an incredibly stressful experience. For these people, physical treatment alone is not sufficient. There are over five million peer-reviewed research studies demonstrating the positive effects of integrating stress management into chronic disease care. For patients, this type of care is associated with improved emotional health, quality of life and even physical improvements. So our question at Neolth is, if we know stress management is so beneficial, why is this type of holistic care management for chronic disease not standard of care?
The answer is due to a combination of time constraints within clinic visits and financial limitations. There is simply not enough time to work with a patient to develop a stress management plan during traditional 15-minute clinic visit. The only thing physicians can do is verbally recommend stress reduction. Unfortunately, stating “Reduce your stress” without subsequently connecting patients to an intervention is not helpful.
Some clinics are fortunate to have access to in-person stress management programs. While these programs can be effective, they are expensive ($500-3000) and require in-person appointments one or more times a week. These are major barriers to patient engagement.
A prescription to a digital, at-home stress management program is a great first step for improving the clinic experience. This provides patients holistic support for living with chronic disease and helps them engage in self-management between office visits. It allows 24/7 access to the program, rather than the burden of attending in-person appointments. It’s also much more affordable. But this in itself is still not enough. Such a program must provide individualized care.
Clinics today often provide standardized care based on a patient’s diagnosis. But patients are more than their diagnosis. When creating an at-home care plan, we must consider an individual’s emotional and behavioral health in addition to their diagnosis: individual differences in their coping behaviors, stress level, emotional awareness, and support systems that influence the design of their care plan. While this is possible through one-on-one work with integrative specialists, it’s more convenient and affordable to utilize technology.
This is exactly what we’re doing at Neolth: improving chronic disease care by providing access to holistic, affordable, at-home stress management. We’ve built a digital stress management platform that is integrated into the clinician’s workflow. With Neolth, when a clinician tells a patient to reduce their stress they can follow up with a prescription to our medical stress management platform. Clinicians don’t need to change the structure of clinic visits. It’s as simple as one-click prescribing or handing the patient a written prescription code for Neolth. The whole process takes less than 60 seconds. Additionally, our monitoring component allows providers to track changes in patient health status and behavior, detect emotional risk factors for future health complications and intervene as needed.
Neolth not only saves providers time, as they don’t need to work with patients directly to build and continuously update a stress management plan, but Neolth saves patients time and money. Patients don’t need to schedule weekly or bi-weekly appointments for an in-person stress management program. They also don’t need to pay the high fees associated with group or one-on-one care. Patients can access the Neolth platform from home 24/7 for convenience and optimal engagement.
Most importantly, Neolth gives patients access to the highest quality, integrative care at an affordable price. Paying for one-on-one visits with an integrative specialist costs up to $500 an hour. Neolth uses cutting edge technology to automate the work of an integrative specialist. Our clinical decision making algorithm uses medical expertise, AI and patient feedback to personalize and update stress management plans for patients. Each patient gets personalized care plans that go beyond diagnosis, evaluating physical, emotional and behavioral characteristics to build customized at-home stress management plans. Our personalization algorithm allows us to use Neolth as a transdiagnostic intervention, which means we work with patients with various diagnoses including cancer, chronic pain and heart disease. Through the use of innovative behavioral and human-centered design, we engage patients in a collaborative care model to build and continuously improve their at-home stress management routine. By incorporating patient feedback into our algorithm, we improve patient satisfaction, engagement and outcomes.
Our mission at Neolth is to use technology to increase access to affordable, personalized medical stress management. By creating digital interventions for at-home care, we can give emotional support to patients living with chronic diseases. We can prevent future medical complications related to stress, such as decreased quality of life, reduced physical health, or the development of comorbidities. Ultimately, we can effectively combat the chronic disease epidemic. We can do this by making stress management a standard of care lifestyle prescription for patients, to address stress as a root cause of disease.