The medical profession is historically categorized as a reactive field—reacting to trauma, disease, and ailments as they arise, and providing treatment after the fact. In recent years there’s been a major shift in society towards self-optimization as it relates to one’s health, yet preventive medicine remains a largely unexplored domain. Opt Health, a men’s preventive health platform, which operates on a telehealth basis, has stepped in to fill the void with bespoke treatments, hands-on solutions, and a gamified system that encourages men to optimize their health before the option to act is forced onto them. We caught up with Dr. John Tidwell, who both co-founded and acts as the company’s Chief Medical Officer, to learn about the importance of getting ahead of one’s wellness and how Opt Health helps its clients reach their goals while reshaping the health industry.
Q: How did you transition from orthopaedics into the preventive space, and what drew you to the field?
Dr. Tidwell: Most of what we do as medical professionals is fix things after they’ve gone bad or poorly, and we’re good at that. This is an opportunity to help people before they’re in a spot where they essentially need surgeons to put them back together.
Q: What inspired or motivated you to co-found Opt Health?
Dr. Tidwell: My brother, Greg, Samir Ghia and Camilo Isaza—the other co-founders—started Opt Health together, and when they approached me about coming on as the Chief Medical Officer, I was very intrigued. The opportunity to be a part of this new business that has so much potential and benefits patients, while still keeping my own practice and working with my family…it was a no-brainer.
The medical field is not as advanced as it could be in terms of function, especially when compared to other industries, so the fact that Opt is merging technology with medicine is very exciting.
Q: What is the biggest sell of telehealth in general, and what about telehealth in the preventive medicine space?
Dr. Tidwell: At the moment, COVID. And as awful as the situation has been, some really great things can come out of trying times. The convenience factor is a major selling point. A lot of people avoid doctor visits due to scheduling, not being able to take time off to come in, and a lot of times they procrastinate until they have a real problem. Telehealth incentivizes patients to take care of their health without the hassle. And specifically, as it relates to preventive medicine, a lot of it does not require a medical procedure, rather it’s about lifestyle changes—nutrition, stress counseling, mental health, etc.—which can be recommended via a virtual visit.
Q: What issue is Opt Health trying to solve?
Dr. Tidwell: There are two sides, health span and lifespan. We’re not only helping people live longer, but increasing the quality of those years. We focus on the optimization of your health with your own body’s natural hormones.
Q: What makes Opt Health stand out from its competitors in the industry?
Dr. Tidwell: We offer a more personalized, multi-faceted approach for clients. There are definitely companies out there that are providing hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but they do not have an all-encompassing concierge service like we do. Besides spending more time with your physician, having people check up on your progress, there’s also our unique technology component—the Opt dashboard where clients can review and track their data and changes in real time.
Q: Can you elaborate on the Dashboard?
Dr. Tidwell: There’s a little gamification going on with the dashboard. We have 6 categories that are measured: gut health, hormones, nutrition, stress, exercise & sleep, and inflammation, and these combine to create a score—since men are competitive by nature, the score is very helpful for both understanding what’s going on internally and keeping track of positive shifts.
Q: Why is preventive medicine so important?
Dr. Tidwell: We as a society and culture, especially men, typically do not want to go to the doctor. Men also have a tendency to not share their problems or issues, which also seeps into mental health. These are things we want to address upfront, create better relationships between patients and physicians, and fix problems and prevent diseases before they get to a point where surgery and more serious treatment is the only option.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about preventive health?
Dr. Tidwell: A lot of people think that HRT means taking steroids and equate it to having a heart attack and roid rage, but this is not the case. The reality is that the medicine and therapy is there to make people healthier, to optimize their lives from multiple angles.
Q: How does the platform help men get and stay on track with their treatment plan?
Dr. Tidwell: Most of this is done through the dashboard. Every input, from lab results to your answers and stats, create new outputs that help the client stay on track in real time. We’re working on integrating with Alexa, to provide clients with daily reminders and notifications to help keep them accountable and on plan.
Q: What treatments and plans of action does Opt Health provide its clients?
Dr. Tidwell: From a medicinal standpoint there’s hormone therapy, testosterone or thyroid therapy, and we also have a nutraceutical component—composed of various vitamins and supplements—and lifestyle change suggestions from the physician.
Q: How do you envision Opt Health growing?
Dr. Tidwell: We will be bringing on more physicians as we expand, and also adding nutritionists to our team, to provide all-encompassing support for our clients.