FAQ’S

Frequently Asked Questions About the WFH Provider Network

What is required in order to join the provider network?
A signed license agreement and enrollment in our training program.  You will be allowed to begin your Wellness Forum Health practice while completing the last training component, the 6-month Professional Mentoring and Development program.

What are the major “rules” I will be expected to follow as a condition of being an approved provider?
•    You will be required to enroll all clients/patients as members of Wellness Forum Health
•    You will be required to operate your practice in accordance with the philosophy of Wellness Forum Health
•    You will be required to operate your business in compliance with the current published Policies and Procedures Manual

What are the advantages of joining the provider network?
We offer you an opportunity to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself, and provide many resources that are difficult for a solo practitioner to develop, such as:
·    Hundreds of hours of programming and thousands of referenced articles to facilitate evidence-based discussions (new materials are developed weekly)
·    Effective practice templates and protocols
·    Profitable practice models (practitioners do not have to decide between doing the “right” thing and the “profitable” thing)
·    Proven intervention programs for chronic/degenerative diseases (food-borne illnesses), psychological issues, and musculoskeletal disorders
·    A diverse line of quality health-promoting products
·    Well-developed marketing strategies
·    Comprehensive training programs that allow practitioners to duplicate our success
·    Well-developed infrastructure for support
·    Resources for expansion
·    Established 501(c )(3) nonprofit to provide funding for research
·    Excellent international reputation

Why are all clients/patients required to become members of Wellness Forum Health?
There are several reasons, including:
•    To make sure that all clients/patients of providers in the network have access to all of the educational programs and tools offered by Wellness Forum Health
•    To ensure philosophical consistency. All clients/patients learn the same dietary program, for example, rather than providers enrolling some as members while teaching others dietary programs that are different than ours.
•    Financial viability.  The development of our existing resources has required enormous investment and even more will be required as we grow and scale this business. Membership fees and participation in Wellness Forum Health programs provide the financing to make continued development of resources and assets possible.

The agreement requires that I follow the rules outlined in the Policies and Procedures Manual, and says that you can change these rules at any time.  What if I don’t like the rules?
We do not capriciously change our procedures or rules for operating a Wellness Forum business.  But we must be allowed the flexibility to make changes that benefit the entire organization and demand that those changes be implemented by everyone.  Some examples of changes in the past include:
•    Regulating content of websites using our name.  Almost no one had a website when our business began in 1996; today everyone does, which has necessitated addressing issues with website content in our procedures manual.
•    Changing the name from The Wellness Forum to Wellness Forum Health when we began the transition to becoming a healthcare company.
•    Development of a new logo, color scheme and brand.
While it might seem like common sense to some that these changes would have to be made system-wide, universal agreement is not always the case, which is why compliance has to be written into the agreement.

What are the main reasons why people do not join the provider network?
•    Desire to remain independent
•    Disagreement with one or more aspects of our philosophy; some practitioners want to teach a vegan diet to everyone, for example
•    Desire to offer products or services not approved by Wellness Forum Health
•    Dislike of features of the termination clause in the license agreement

What types of products or services are not approved by Wellness Forum Health?
We are not interested in unreasonably restricting the practices of providers, and we also do not want to interfere with the clinical decision-making.  But our goal is to develop a network of providers in which the overall philosophy is consistent.

Some examples may be helpful in understanding how we make decisions about this issue:
•    Providers in our network are trained to use evidence meeting certain criteria in making their recommendations to clients/patients.  One criteria for evidence include that the protocol must make a significant difference in long-term health outcomes, not just improve surrogate markers of health.  Many drugs and dietary supplements improve biomarkers but do not improve long-term outcomes. Fish oil, for example, has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol, but has no impact on long-term health improvement. Therefore, recommending fish oil and other similar products with similar outcomes is a prohibited practice.
•    Vitamin D testing and supplementation has been proven to be useless for almost all patients, with few exceptions (nursing home patients and patients with advanced kidney disease, for example). This is an example of how we would allow clinical judgment. The occasional recommendation to take vitamin D supplements for certain patients would be ok, but testing all patients for vitamin D status and recommending supplementation for most would not be ok.

A complete list of our criteria for evaluating research, programs and products appears as an appendix to this document.

The license agreement includes an exhibit that lists exemptions for products and services other than those offered by Wellness Forum Health. You will have an opportunity to discuss this thoroughly with our office and any practitioner who is not comfortable with our restrictions should not enter into an agreement with us.

What are the restrictions on practice if the agreement is terminated?
For a period of two years following the termination of the agreement for any reason, the provider cannot offer products and services similar to those offered by Wellness Forum Health in a 60-mile radius of his/her current location.  The reason is simple; we have identified a valuable niche in the healthcare business, we have developed financially viable methods for delivering our services and products to the public, and we do not want to train our competition. An exhibit to the license agreement will clearly outline the services we mutually agree that you will be permitted to offer after termination should we end our agreement for any reason.

I am not a doctor, or primary care provider.  How would I fit in with your practice model?
We insist that all providers remain within their scope of practice for both legal and safety reasons. All of our providers develop a directory of services describing their practice, and these directories vary depending on the training and scope of practice of the provider. Medical doctors may prescribe medication, order or perform diagnostic tests, and reduce or eliminate medications, while others in the network can only provide health consulting and education about health issues which can then be discussed with a medical doctor. Our network consists of medical doctors, nutritionists, nurses, physical therapists and many other specialties, all of whom operate their practices within guidelines based on their training and scope.

How successful have providers in the network been?
During the 18 years our company has been in business, we have licensed many people to teach our nutrition programs, but our conversion to a healthcare company is recent.  The first providers began training in late January 2015 and began their businesses mid-year.  As expected, some have developed their practices and businesses faster than others based on many variables, including available time to develop the business.  Most have developed some members and clients/patients and some have done quite well.

How do I develop a practice?  How do I know I will be successful?
You will be responsible for marketing your services in your area, using the same strategies that we have successfully used for many years. No one can guarantee that you will be successful. But we can share with you why we have been successful, which provides some clues as to how you can duplicate our results:
•    We are consistent. For 18 years we have held regular dinners and other events that have been proven to attract prospective members and clients.
•    We are relentless. We have continually and aggressively promoted educational programs in the community, referral programs, and other strategies that attract new clients. We constantly work at improving our members’ experience with us. And we have never stopped developing programs that lead to long-term client participation and retention.
•    We offer a unique repertoire of services which are not available elsewhere.
•    We are “crazy good” at what we do, which makes our referral business robust.
•    We are hard workers.  Work is the great equalizer that can overcome lack of experience or almost any other shortcoming.

Our business is no different than any other – you will get out of this what you put into it.  Hard work, combined with consistent effort to improve skills and a long-term commitment usually results in success.  We will provide tools, strategies and training, but ultimately, it will be your efforts that deliver results.

Appendix A
Rules for Evaluating Research and Protocols

Principles for evaluating treatment options:
•    Observe the Hippocratic Oath: First and foremost, do no harm.
•    Treat the whole person: Begin with a more comprehensive assessment of the patient.
•    Address cause of disease: Any selected treatment protocol must be proven to improve long-term health outcomes of the patient rather than affecting only surrogate markers.
•    Choose the least invasive option first, whenever possible: For example, for some conditions there is no definitive proof that adopting an optimal diet is a better choice, but there are no negative side effects resulting from eating an optimal diet. On the other hand, drugs and procedures usually do not improve long-term health and almost always have side effects. Thus, trying dietary intervention prior to prescribing drugs or procedures, especially when there is no critical reason for immediate treatment, is a reasonable option for many patients.
•    Acknowledge the distinction between statistical significance and meaningful difference: Does the intervention make a meaningful difference in the patient’s quality of life and health outcomes? For example, in a clinical trial, ranolazine was shown to reduce angina attacks from 4.5 to 3.5 per week after six weeks.   These results are statistically significant but almost meaningless – a patient taking this drug still has chest pain much of the time, and his cardiovascular disease is still progressing.  Side effects of the drug include dizziness, constipation, headaches, and nausea.  Unless the patient is in critical condition and requires immediate emergency intervention, using dietary intervention to relieve chest pain is a better option most of the time.
•    Rapidity of effect: Protocols that resolve health issues quickly are preferred.  For example, converting to an optimal diet can improve health so fast that patients must be carefully monitored so that they can be withdrawn from or taken off drugs in order to avoid risks associated with over-medicating.  In the case of the example cited above, it takes 6 weeks for Ranolazine to reduce chest pain episodes from 4.5 to 3.5 per week.  On the other hand, it took only two weeks for Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s patients to experience resolution of their chest pain with dietary intervention.

Another example is cognitive therapy for psychological issues.  The duration of therapy is short for most patients, and studies have shown that the method can be used successfully through several delivery methods, including computer and telephone.   Cognitive Therapy is successful even when administered by minimally trained lay persons; over 90% of depressed individuals in Uganda experienced remission from depression in only 16 weeks of group sessions conducted by high school and college students given only two weeks of training.
•    Breadth of effect: Treatment should not only address the health issues which are causing the patient to seek treatment, but also should resolve other presenting conditions and prevent other diseases from developing.  An example of such a treatment is the right type of dietary intervention, which has been shown to stop and even reverse so many diseases that it has been hypothesized by some that there is only one disease that manifests itself with different symptoms in different people.

Western medicine assigns a name to each symptom because it is often economically advantageous to do so; it is more profitable to sell different treatments (usually drugs) for each symptom than to address the overall health status of an individual with more simple interventions like diet.   Western medicine is best for trauma and emergency – injuries, burns, re-attaching limbs, and transplants when necessary; and for patients who do not respond to dietary intervention and other noninvasive, non-toxic health approaches.

From an Informed consent viewpoint we will often offer this type of choice:  Option 1 - take a drug that addresses one symptom and causes serious side effects, or Option 2 - adopt a specific diet that will resolve many if not all of the patient’s health issues, and cause beneficial side effects that can include weight loss, increased energy, restoration of sexual function, and improved appearance.
•    Depth of effect: given the choice, most patients will elect protocols resulting in major changes in their health, not minor ones.  As David Barker, M.D. says, “…While patients are grateful for new drugs and operations, what they really want is not to be patients at all.  In this we are failing them.”  In other words, patients usually want to get well, but are not being offered the opportunity to choose to get well or shown how to get well.

Many InforMED protocols identified through analysis using these criteria result in permanent health improvement; indeed many people become former patients as a result of using them. While there are exceptions (e.g. trauma and emergency), in most cases there is no immediate need to use pharmaceutical intervention or to perform procedures, making dietary and other non-toxic, non-invasive treatments better first choices.
•    Drugs and procedures become the “alternative medicine”: These are reserved for when diet and other non-toxic and non-invasive treatments, such as effective therapy and manual manipulation, do not work.  When considering drugs and procedures, patients will be given a careful analysis of the risks and benefits of the treatment protocol.  For example, a Cochrane Collaboration analysis found no benefit from prescribing drugs for mild hypertension.   And evidence does not support the use of aspirin for primary prevention.  For every stroke prevented, several people have potentially severe bleeding episodes.

Note: the terms “statistical significance vs meaningful difference”, “rapidity of effect”, “breadth of effect”, and “depth of effect” are borrowed from the book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition and are used with permission from T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., the primary author.

•    evaluating outcomes – a significant reduction in the risk of either medical complications or death as a result of using the screening tool.  An example of a beneficial screening tool is PAP tests to detect early-stage cervical cancer. Deaths from cervical cancer have dropped significantly since the PAP test has been introduced.  And screening is indeed a valuable as a diagnostic tool when people have symptoms. However, ‘population screening’ tends to turn healthy people into sick patients by identifying conditions that are clinically insignificant and very unlikely to progress or cause co-morbidity or death.  Population screening turns many healthy people into sick patients.

The above principles are used as guidelines for recommendations. In addition our editors examine published research through the following filters:
•    Overall design, methods and procedures should be transparent; provide clear information about the sample, intervention and control group(s); demonstrate an objective approach to research; and provide information for replicating the research.
•    Original research is preferred.
•    Methods used should be those most appropriate for the type of research undertaken.
•    The extent to which the research identifies a cause and effect relationship, and a plausible mechanism of action.
•    The presence of selection or information bias.
•    Use of appropriate measurement of variables.
•    Analysis of the role of chance and false positives, which are common in subset analysis and continued analysis.
•    Extent to which research findings have been replicated by other groups.
•    Over-reliance on ecological studies to support hypothesis.
•    Analysis of alternative explanation of findings.
•    An explicit statement of risks vs. the benefits.

Clear disclosure of all conflicts of interest including researchers and their funders; or lack thereof.

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[1] Stone, P, Nikolay A, et al. (2006) "Antianginal Efficacy of Ranolazine When Added to Treatment With Amlodipine." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 48.3: 566-75.

[2] Esselstyn CB Jr, Ellis SG. Medendorp SV, Crowe TD. (1995) A strategy to arrest and reverse coronary artery disease: a 5-year longitudinal study of a single physician's practice. J Fam Prac; 41:560--568.

[3] Tworney C, O’Reilly g, Byrne M. “Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression in primary care: a meta-analysis.”  Family Practice (2014) doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmu060 First published online: September 22, 2014.

[4] Bolton P, Bass J, Neugebauer R et al. “Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression in Rural Uganda: A Randomized Trial.”  JAMA June 18 2003;289(23):3117-3124.

[5] T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Howard Jacobson, Ph.D., Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition Ben Bella Books Dallas Texas 2013 p 19

[6] “Cochrane review finds no proved benefit in drug treatment for patients with mild hypertension.”  BMJ 2012;345:e5511.

[7] McCarthy, M. (2014) “FDA Question use of aspirin for primary prevention of stroke and heart attack”. BMJ; 348: 3168.

[8] Laara E, Day N, Hakama M. “Trends in mortality from cervical cancer in the Nordic countries: association with organised screening programs.”  Lancet May 30 1987;1(8544):1247-1249.

[9] Christopherson W, Lundin F, Mendez W, Parker J. “Cervical cancer control: a study of morbidity and mortality trends over a twenty-one year period.”  Cancer Sept 1976;38(3):1357-1366.

[10] Johannesson G, Geirsson G, Day N. “The effect of mass screening in Iceland, 1965-74 on the incidence and mortality of cervical carcinoma.”  Int J Cancer April 15 1978;21(4):418-25.