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AOL Founder Steve's Case's Revolution Health Names IM Leader Jacobs to Key Role PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

AOL Founder Steve's Case's Revolution Health Names IM Leader Jacobs to Key Role

Summary:  When AOL founder Steve Case announced in April that he would invest up to $750-million of his own money in his new venture, Revolution Health, a lot of people in the CAM-IM world thought: Revolution? Well, that's what we are about too. How will Case's version and ours intersect? While all the answers are not yet available, we do now know that long-time integrative medicine leader Bradly Jacobs, MD, MPH, will be on or near the bridge as this Revolution's key directions and relationships are set.

Bradly Jacobs, MD, MPH, key role with the Revolution
Reform of medicine. Healthcare reform. From "medicine" to a system that deserves to be called "health care."
A whole new paradigm. From disease management to health promotion. Patient-centered, not physician-centered. No, person-centered. Consumer-oriented. From reactive to health focused. From investing resources on end-stage technologies to developing a thriving industry of health creation. Transformation of self. Transformation of medicine.

Such intention is close to the hearts of most of us. Amidst the $1.7-trillion medical-industrial complex,
such intention is also tantamout to a call for revolution

So when AOL founder Steve Case announced last April that he was not only jumping into this economic sector with both feet, but was naming his intent as Revolution Health, many of us sat up to evaluate this new player.  What could we expect from his announced commitment of up to $750-million of his own money and 20 years of his life? And aren't what we are doing good partners for some of that $750-million ... ?

ImageSo it was good news yesterday when Bradly Jacobs, MD, MPH, reached me on my cell phone while I was out biking to let me know that he had been named Senior Medical Director of Care for Case's operation. Jacobs explained that Revolution Health operates with three divisions: "coverage, care and content." (Revolution Health likes words that begin with "C". The firm's mission is expressed by Case - another c-word - as "choice, convenience and control.") Jacobs notes that his job will include actively advising the group in the areas of coverage and content, as well as care, his principle area.

Jacobs' Background and Potential Value to Revolution Health

Jacobs is a graduate of the Stanford University School of Medicine and an internist by training. He served as the founding medical director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.  His clinical integrative medicine interests have been in the areas of acupuncture, botanicals and yoga. Widely published, his research expertise has been in the botanical milk thistle and, more recently, yoga.

Jacobs has been involved in many of the field's seminal moments. He presented or testified before the White House Commission on CAM Policy, the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and participated in such seminal gatherings as the Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summits. He consulted with some of the field's dot-com entrepreneurial activity in the late 1990s.

"We believe it would be good for people and society -
and good for business - to focus more time and investment
in keeping people healthy and fulfilled, as opposed to
dealing with the resulting problems (poor health, unfulfilled
lives, etc.) after the fact.

Revolution Health, from the website

Asked why Revolution Health was interested in him for the work, Jacobs referenced his background and connections throughout integrative medicine. He added: "They liked they I have a health promotion focus, that I have been involved in education and academic medicine. They like my research background. They want what they are doing to have an evidence-based approach." He added a final note: "My collaborative style fits with what they are doing. I truly enjoy and benefit from collaborating with people from multiple health professions."

CAM, Integrative Medicine, the Revolution Approach and Consciousness

Asked whether Revolution Health was planning to use the "integrative medicine" term in describing their products, Jacobs replied: "Good question." He added:  "Maybe, and it might be 'integrative health care' or with the consumers, 'holistic health' or 'healthy living.'" The language will depend on the audience. Says Jacobs: "The company is trying to execute on their vision."

A hopeful part of the Revolution Health vision from their site follows:
"We believe it would be good for people and society - and good for business - to focus more time and investment in keeping people healthy and fulfilled, as opposed to dealing with the resulting problems (poor health, unfulfilled lives, etc.) after the fact."
Case then adds a global concern which will attract many CAM-IM leaders:
"We also believe that environmental responsibility is integral to healthy living and essential to our world's future."
Among other CAM-IM related moves of Case and the Revolution Health Group have been the purchase of Miraval - Life in Balance, with which Andrew Weil, MD has had a series of affiliations. (Miraval has also been the location of a number of formative gatherings in the CAM-IM world.) Revolution also has an agreement with Gaiam, the healthy living media company, and has hired former Patagonia CEO Michael Cooke to head a Revolution division. Case spoke this year at the annual LOHAS meeting. The acronym stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability and reflects the choices and purchasing practices of the subset of population which part of Revolution's work is targeting called "cultural creatives." A board member is Stephen Wiggins, who shocked the HMO world in 1996 by kicking off a very visible CAM benefit program at Oxford Health Plans.

Jacobs is clear that a lot of the work and direction of Revolution Health is yet in formative stages. For instance, the firm's investment in the retail-based Redi-Clinics may or may not have a CAM-IM component. Says Jacobs: "It remains to be determined." The clinics, meant to be "more convenient and cheaper" than typical services, are staffed by nurse practitioners.

I asked Jacobs if, in this case,
"cheaper" might be added to "convenient" and Revolution's marketing of words beginning in "c". He laughed and added: "Another is 'consciousness.' The company believes that we've reached a level of consciousness that we are able to entertain the processes of health and wellness and well-being as well as of curing disease, that we can have a more bio-psycho-spocial approach, that we see the value in health promotion."

Comment: In a 2002 gathering of the Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summit, which Jacobs attended, one portion of the meeting involved a collective review of some proposed Design Principles for Healthcare Renewal. Principle #9 was listed as Align Resource Investment with These Healthcare Principles. The principle opens with an affirmation that "the renewal of our healthcare payment and delivery systems is fostered by aligning resource investment, in the public, private and philanthropic sectors, with these (other) principles." The proposed principle ends with these words:
 "The renewed healthcare system is a partnership between an expanded commitment to the public health and a thriving industry of health creation."
Jacobs, wearing both his Master of Public Health, and his title as Senior Medical Director of Care for (the) Revolution, may well be in the cat-bird seat to see how well we can actually begin to realize on that principal. Good luck, Bradly!

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