American College of Lifestyle Medicine celebrates 100th member of Health Systems Council dedicated to providing high-value care with lifestyle medicine

The rapid growth of the Health Systems Council reflects the urgency and enthusiasm of innovative health organizations from nearly 40 states to integrate lifestyle medicine.

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) today announced that its Health Systems Council (HSC), a network of innovative health systems founded in 2021 that is leading the transition to high-value care through the integration of evidence-based lifestyle medicine, has welcomed its 100th member.

The HSC provides a platform for health systems to share state-of-the-art practices and resources, identify pragmatic solutions to common barriers, and accelerate the integration and implementation of lifestyle medicine therapeutic modalities within their organizations and their communities. 

That the council achieved 100 members in only two years reflects the recognition by health systems that lifestyle medicine is a potential solution to the ineffective and unsustainable current U.S. model of health care delivery. In fact, for many diseases, clinical practice guidelines recommend lifestyle intervention as the first and optimal treatment, but clinicians too often lack the knowledge and skills to help patients make successful behavior changes. Lifestyle medicine clinicians use therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. 

HSC member organizations from both urban and rural areas nationwide are incorporating lifestyle medicine in a variety of innovative ways, from community-wide initiatives at Mayo Clinic, Emory Healthcare and NYC Health + Hospitals to “employee health first” projects in Alaska and Wyoming. The U.S. military, one of the largest health systems in the country, is incorporating lifestyle medicine into care it provides active-duty service members due to the increasing levels of chronic disease that negatively affect readiness.  

“The enthusiasm and urgency with which this diverse and collaborative community of health systems responded when ACLM launched its Health Systems Council two years ago has surpassed even our initial expectations,” said ACLM President Beth Frates, MD, FACLM, DipABLM, clinical assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “HSC member organizations are pioneering the integration of lifestyle medicine into health systems to improve the health and quality of life of large populations, to lower costs, to improve health equity and to increase clinician and patient satisfaction. ACLM is incredibly proud of the great success of the HSC and is excited for its future.”

The health care landscape is shifting from fee-for-service toward value-based care payment models, and lifestyle medicine is synonymous with high-value care delivery. Lifestyle medicine-certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse lifestyle-related chronic disease. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine—a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connections—also provides effective prevention for these conditions.

HSC member NYC Health + Hospitals is a prime example of system innovation in lifestyle medicine. The health system is expanding its original lifestyle medicine program to six new sites across all five boroughs. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has championed the expansion and other large city mayors have taken notice. In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors ratified a resolution supporting a lifestyle medicine approach to addressing the nation’s trajectory of chronic disease.

“NYC Health + Hospitals is proud to be a founding member of ACLM’s Health Systems Council, demonstrating our commitment to advancing lifestyle medicine as a core approach to preventing and treating chronic disease,” said Michelle McMacken, MD, FACP, DipABLM, NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Director, Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine. “Kudos to the Health Systems Council for achieving a 100-member milestone and inspiring a sea change in the practice of medicine.” 

Since certification began in 2017 by the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (ABLM), more than 5,000 physicians and other health professionals worldwide have become certified. The largest class ever – more than 1,200 health professionals — has registered to take the 2023 certification exam this fall.

Dawn Mussallem, DO, DipABLM, a breast cancer and lifestyle medicine specialist at Mayo’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida who represents Mayo Clinic on the HSC, said her entire medical practice is dedicated to helping patients incorporate the pillars of lifestyle medicine alongside conventional cancer treatments. This approach is directly in line with Mayo Clinic’s mission of inspiring hope and contributing to whole-person health and well-being.

“Lifestyle medicine is integral to delivering successful world-class care and is a fundamental part of Mayo’s integrated clinical practice, education and research,” Dr. Mussallem said.

Scott Kashman, President and CEO of Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside in Jacksonville, Fla., the 100th organization to join the HSC, said “Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside is humbled to be the 100th member of this innovative and dynamic group of health care leaders. This collaboration will allow us to leverage resources from American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the support of our health system to promote the health of our associates and the communities we are blessed to serve.”

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is the nation’s medical professional society advancing lifestyle medicine as the foundation for a redesigned, value-based and equitable healthcare delivery system, leading to whole person health. ACLM educates, equips, empowers and supports its members through quality, evidence-based education, certification and research to identify and eradicate the root cause of chronic disease, with a clinical outcome goal of health restoration as opposed to disease management.

SOURCE American College of Lifestyle Medicine

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