Treating Patients Beyond the Outcome of Lab Results

Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Dr. Jennifer Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO, Circee Health, to know more about the role and need for preventive medicine today.

What is preventative medicine?

Preventative medicine is something I’m very passionate about. Preventative medicine is the art of just as it sounds, preventing disease before it starts preventing a disease from progressing.

Basically, prolonging a patient’s life is the ultimate goal of preventative medicine, as I alluded to earlier as a primary care doctor, which is what I guess a general doctor is called in the US. It’s very concerning to myself and my colleagues that preventive medicine has gone by the wayside. If you look at the statistics, the number of medical students that want to go into preventative medicine, internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine, even OB GYN gynaecology is considered a preventative medicine field. The number has drastically dropped over the last several decades, especially now everyone is interested in going into radiology, Cardiology surgery, and I think that’s mostly happening because of compensation.

Doctors get paid for the procedures that they do. Whereas preventative medicine is mostly about empowering the patient, teaching them how to live more healthy, take in our company’s case, take less medication, hopefully take no medication. So I guess that’s less lucrative in the long run. I’d love for medicine to go back to where it was earlier this century when doctors used to visit patients houses and teach them do a general checkup, just a preventative checkup when they’re feeling well and say, if you do this, you won’t get diabetes. If you do this, you won’t get arthritis.

If you do this, you won’t develop heart disease at age 50, like your father did. So it’s all about recognising early signs and empowering the patient to take care of their body and hopefully prolong their life. Like I mentioned earlier, in general, the benefit of more patients going to get their preventative checkups is better for obviously the person themselves. It’s better for society, the amount of money spent on health care all across the world. And I can say, particularly in the US, is astronomical. So preventing surgeries and medications and chemotherapy, that sort of thing, of course, would be a great thing.

Idea behind Circee health?

My husband and I noticed over the last several years before we moved to India that we were able to collaborate with his medical research background and my clinical background. And we came up with a set of methods which are always evidence based in the medical literature. And we noticed that with these methods, not with giving pills and injections, we could have patients that were even deep into diabetes or heart disease or thyroid disorders, and we could actually reverse their diseases, which to everyone, especially I think people in the medical community sounds crazy.

How can you reverse the disease without cutting someone open or giving them an injection? But we actually were seeing that happen to patients that truly listen to our plan. So we thought we could use our medical knowledge to help somehow lessen that burden and give back to society in that way and do something that we both love.

So that’s when the idea of Circee health was born, Circee, the name actually is very important related to the patient.

We try to teach the patient to take care of themselves. And Circee is the Greek equivalent of our Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. So that’s where we got that name, we thought was very appropriate for what we’re trying to do. So basically what we do is we call it a chronic disease reversal programme.

So at the moment, we are just online, which was influenced significantly by Covid, unfortunately, but we’ve noticed that was also a boon for us because we’ve noticed we can take technology and help as well. So we’ve been speaking with patients virtually through telemedicine, but also in that time period created an app which is actually artificial intelligence based. And this app, we’ve created an algorithm to take patient information, not just their health parameters but where they live and family history and things like that. And it personalises their medical experience.

And we can help guide them with what particular parameters, depending on their disease or their risk of disease or the amount of pollution in the city that they live in.

Use of technology in treating patients and how are using artificial intelligence to treat patients?

We tailor their treatment and their suggestions based on that index that we’ve come up with. It’s called the Circee Health Index. And we’re very proud of that. The artificial intelligence factor is instead of my husband and I are sitting there with every patient and checking off all the boxes. The algorithm points us in a certain direction of how to treat the patient, and we ultimately make the final decision.

So that’s where we are. Our app will be released, hopefully very soon. And we’re excited about that. We do plan to make most of the app free, and that way we can reach more people again. Like I mentioned earlier, we really want to teach the general public how they can be healthier.

What are future plans for Circee?

So 90% of the app will be free the rest. If patients desire more specific help coming off medications or specific testing that they might need to do to become healthier, then we can help them in that way for a nominal fee. So that’s what our plan is. Future Directions we’re hoping once the pandemic has calmed down. Our idea is to open kind of a health resort or a wellness clinic where we can in person teach patients how they can become better, whether it’s meditation, yoga, plant based cooking classes, photography, drawing things like that just to treat the patient as a whole, not just a lab test result.

We also are hoping that we can collaborate with like minded physicians and healthcare workers, not just physicians, but nutritionists and physical therapists and instructors, personal trainers. Basically all like minded people that can have the same passion to help people get better and stay that way.

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My condition was progressively deteriorating over the past 2 years. I’d been good at taking my medicine and exercising so knew I should have felt better. My arthritis and scleroderma were really affecting my quality of life. Increasing pain and fatigue were wearing me down.

Dr. Jenny and Ajoy came well-recommended so I got in touch. I completed a short questionnaire before my consultation. Covid meant it was all done over VC. They put me at ease, and it was like we were in the same room. They asked all the right medical and lifestyle questions without judgement. They devised a plan which was holistic, realistic and easy to follow. Their gentle and knowledgeable coaching kept me on track.

The resulting decrease in swelling and pain has given me a new lease of life in a few weeks. I feel so much better and look so much happier. I felt they were genuinely interested in my well-being. Happy to highly recommend them.