Physician’s New Role Helps Patients Reclaim Their Health in a Big Way
In her five-plus years as a physician at Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Health Center, Elizabeth Ricanati, MD, carved out an interesting niche. Women sought her help for problems with eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia and, frequently, obesity. “Invariably, we started talking about exercise, stress management and nutrition,” she says. “I saw that it was making a difference in their lives.”
But there were only so many patients she could see in a day, so when the opportunity came along to make a bigger impact on patient health, she grabbed it. On June 1, 2008, Dr. Ricanati became Medical Director in charge of disease reversal for Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. Michael Roizen, MD, Chief Wellness Officer and head of the Institute, tapped her for the job. “Mike gave me the opportunity and I came running,” says Dr. Ricanati, who is applying the principles of healthy living that she taught her patients through a brand-new program at Cleveland Clinic.
Guided Toward Wellness
Lifestyle 180, designed for patients with chronic diseases to learn how to reclaim their health and vitality, launches this month after two pilot sessions concluded successfully this past fall. It’s an evidence-based program that focuses on the whys and hows of nutrition, exercise and stress management. Participants, for instance, get a clear understanding of why it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables, and how to prepare them properly.
Four-hour sessions take place twice a week over six weeks in a stress-free setting with kitchen and exercise facilities. Participants receive medical oversight and individualized care, and are guided in one-on-one sessions toward setting specific, achievable goals for personal health and well-being. Seven cycles will be offered this year, focusing on cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other disease states.
Making Lasting Changes
The goal is for participants to change their health habits in a meaningful way, and there’s already evidence that the Lifestyle 180 approach is working. Of the 13 people who participated in the very first pilot, three of them were able to get off a total of five different prescriptions, says Dr. Ricanati. The results hold implications for individual well-being, of course, as well as for the economic well-being of the U.S. healthcare system, which has seen prescription costs skyrocket.
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