How to Compare and Choose the Best Provider for Your Health Optimization
In this article, I will compare and contrast several options in your search for a health improvement program. As you know, it can be a wasteland on the internet trying to sort through the myriad of possibilities. Who can you trust? How can you sort through all the options with the jargon that most people do not understand? Sure, there are a lot of big brand names, but do you know what they do in their programs?
I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Tiger Medical Institute, a personalized medical solution for successful high achievers seeking to optimize their long-term health proactively. However, I will make my best effort in this article to give you an unbiased analysis of your effective options based on my understanding of the medical industry landscape.
I can do this because my health was in complex shape five years ago. Traditional Western medicine was not providing the answers I was looking for, so I embarked on a journey to learn what solutions existed and to find the best fit for me. I’ll share what I learned. It’s important to me I give you unbiased information. Thousands of people coming to my company website who are not a good fit for what we do is not serving anyone.
I will share my findings along five dimensions based on preferences you may have. I believe as you read this article and watch my video on the same topic, you will learn which direction to pursue that is the best fit for you. Those dimensions include:
- Comparison of medical approaches.
- Disease detection vs. health optimization focus.
- Local vs. national provider capabilities.
- Incremental vs. comprehensive scope.
- Event vs. process-driven system.
Comparison of Medical Approaches
It’s likely your primary care physician is an MD or DO. They practice what is called Western medicine. This approach is algorithmic because they have been trained in a process with defined evidence-based solutions based on accurate diagnosis. This isn’t bad; it’s a good thing; it saved countless lives over the past hundred years. I’m simply bringing a lay perspective to the system. Western medicine is insurance or government payor based. They have a lot of say in what physicians can and cannot do.
Because of how the system works, it’s best for sick care and essential preventative screening. Once you have a condition, the system is excellent at diagnosing your problem and assigning a treatment protocol to help you get better. The system is not set up to sustainably or profitably engage in comprehensive preventative medicine beyond the typical annual physical. Insurance plans typically will not reimburse for advanced root cause-oriented testing. Because insurance-based treatment is sick care oriented, I do not believe it is the best solution for a person with financial resources seeking a transformational change in their health. If you are under 45, in relatively good health, or lack the resources to work with a private pay clinic, this is your best fit. If you remain timely in your annual screenings, you can be comfortable getting a good level of care.
On the other hand, if you are approaching age 45 or beyond that age and have the resources to pursue a more proactive and comprehensive approach to your care, then an integrative functional medicine doctor may be a better fit for you. A functional doctor applies research-based techniques to get at the “root” or “why” behind how you feel today. This involves lab panels and screenings not typically utilized in a local primary care clinic. This holistic approach, meaning multiple systems, is tested to capture an overall picture of a client’s current health status. This approach can be scaled up or down to fit your budget. The Institute for Functional Medicine is an excellent resource to find a local functional clinic in your area at www.ifm.org.
Disease Detection vs. Health Optimization Focus
Before you decide on the approach, consider the next level of analysis. The question to consider next is what exactly you want to learn? One method is to go through a battery of tests to know if you have any pathology active that, if caught early, can be treated. The idea is, “I just want to rule out I have some deadly disease.” If this is what you want, you can request your primary care physician to order more tests they are calling for and potentially at your expense. Unless a test is clinically indicated, meaning symptoms are showing up the doctor can document, insurance typically will not pay.
The alternative approach is to test with the goal in mind to optimize your health, to look for root causes of why you feel the way you think today. This typically requires several tests you will pay out of pocket. If you go this route, there is also variation in the experience, training, and sophistication of the medical professional to take into account. More on that later. At this point, you understand there is a decision to make on approach (traditional vs. functional) and focus (disease detection vs. health optimization). Hopefully, you are beginning to form your opinion of which route is best for you. The older and more financially resourced you are, the more you will want to consider the later options I explore.
Local vs. National Provider Capabilities
There are primary care and internal medicine physicians and specialists at the local level. They primarily consist of MDs and DO’s who practice conventional Western medicine based on a sick care model. This approach leads to multiple clinicians getting involved, often not integrating their work. In my experience, as a high-achieving person who began to run out of energy, gain weight, not sleep well and have some complex health issues, I did not find the care satisfactory in the answers I received. Later, changing to a functional process-driven approach led to insights that resolved long-standing health issues and optimized my overall health.
Functional practitioners at the local level offer valuable root cause holistic care at manageable costs for people. You can scale up or down based on your budget. They have access to reliable testing tools. Not all local professionals can meet that level of care if you are looking for a comprehensive, integrated, and advanced approach. They may not have access to the tools of a national provider; they may lack the specialty training and experience.
National providers include Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, The Riordan Clinic, Hotze Health and Wellness, and Health Nucleus by Human Longevity. Tiger Medical Institute is also on this list of national providers of personalized medical solutions. The capabilities at these nationwide clinics typically exceed the experience and access to advanced testing of local providers, and they come with higher investment levels.
Incremental vs. Comprehensive Scope
If you want to pursue an unbundled, one or two tests at a time approach, I suggest you work locally with a doctor based on your chosen method (traditional vs. functional). If, however, you want to engage in a holistic, programmatic approach that is more comprehensive, then I suggest you research the national players.
In our research at Tiger, we have found that every other national provider has an extensive menu of services you can buy. It can be overwhelming and confusing to decide which combination of services and tests is right for you and will give you the results you are looking for. This is why at Tiger, I’ve created a “package” approach at three levels based on what your needs are when you come to Tiger. The premiere program is focused on delivering transformative results and is simple for you to understand and implement. More later.
Event vs. Process-Driven System
Finally, you must choose your approach to health optimization. The temptation will be for some, regardless of their financial wherewithal, to piecemeal the process. If that is all you can do, then doing something is better than nothing. My advice is to avoid that option if you are over 45 and feeling the effects of 20-30 years of stress, and it’s showing up in your daily energy, sleep, and overall productivity and health.
At the significant branded providers listed above, I would characterize their approaches as event-driven. You come to their location for a day or two, and they run many tests; you see several medical professionals and leave with a unique report. There is a problem with this approach that I’m not sure if you are seeing just yet. Let me share a story to illustrate my point.
In the ’90s, I went to the USGA golf school to improve my game. I had a great teacher, and this man had me hitting a 2-iron off the ground over 200 yards. It was the best I ever stuck the ball in my entire life. I could improve because I had a skilled coach; I didn’t try to do this alone. Within a few short weeks upon returning home, I couldn’t replicate what I was doing at the golf school. This story illustrates how hard it is to achieve transformation on our own. 99% cannot do it without a guide.
In our research and experience with clients who have previously worked with national providers, we have found they provide great information but leave the patient on their own to take their report and translate that into results. Like my golfing story, it doesn’t happen.
If you research Tiger Medical Institute, you will find our approach is functional instead of traditional. Our program is comprehensive and process driven. We’ve curated a program that integrates stress management and sleep optimization with research-based functional medicine methods with comprehensive brain health care, including the prevention of Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and dementia.
We recognize how hard it is to sort out all the options and achieve transformational results on your own. We paid a Tiger mindset coach, a health coach, a clinical manager, and a specially trained, board-certified physician to accompany you in your health transformation journey for a year. Our coaching model is based on a behavior change model rooted in research and validated in the real world through results as we help our clients adopt the 8 Tiger Health Habits.
If you are looking to avoid a lot of travel in exchange for the convenience of a remotely delivered program to your home Tiger Medical is a good choice. Suppose you want help to achieve your goals, have the resources to invest in your health, and desire a curated, functional approach to health optimization. In that case, Tiger Medical Institute is an excellent choice for you. I’ve tried to show you many different options in this article so you can choose the approach that best fits your goals and resources.