Striving to Optimize Health and Wellness

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"We're trying to create a culture of wellness," said Christine Khamis, PA-C.

Dr. Khamis is one of three primary physicians at Strive, a new primary care service powered by Spectrum Health that opened downtown Grand Rapids in July. Strive's care delivery model is unlike any other primary care service in West Michigan—and so are the innovations that come with it.

"What's most important for us here at Strive is our patients' and members' experience. We want people to come here and feel that whatever question or whatever need that brought them to walk into Strive has been answered." 

Comfort is critical.
Strive doesn't look like your typical primary care office. It doesn't even smell like the one—there's no hint of antiseptic in the air.

"We never wanted it to feel like a medical space," said Juliane Giles, Senior Business Development Specialist, Spectrum Health.

Designed in partnership with Haworth's Interphase Interiors, the Strive office is centered on the comfort and needs of the patient. The lobby is modern and sleek, yet cozy—with a dark-stained wood-planked ceiling, art decorating the wall, and couches and chairs clustered in corners for members needing a moment to relax or attend to work while out of the office.

Even the patient and lab rooms are designed with the member in mind. Medical equipment is stowed away until needed. A television screen projects the physician's notes. The custom-designed examination chair looks more like a comfy recliner.

Yet it's still a sterile environment. Giles notes it took months to ensure all textures and materials were both medical grade and comfortable.

Focus on long-term health.
Strive's environment reflects its mission to optimize health and wellness within a changing healthcare industry landscape.

Khamis notes that in the 20th century, healthcare's focus was on infectious diseases. Times have changed, however, and so have the challenges. The United States' major health concerns involve chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and kidney disease.

"The foundation for all these diseases, what's causing them, is problems with lifestyle," Khamis said. "If you come, and I give you medication, I might fix the number of your high blood pressure, but I'm not addressing the underlying cause. We want to upstream what we're looking at. We want to look at the things that constitute or determine your health."

Strive's services are available for any medical need that arises—whether that's an acute illness, annual physical or lab work. Yet Strive is "not just an illness place, but a place to address wellness." The service focuses on all aspects that affect an individual's health, including nutrition, exercise and stress management and more.

"Prevention is key to keeping someone healthy," said Khamis.

Patients are partners.
Strive's focus on long-term health pivots the patient/provider relationship into a partnership. "We're here to ask our patients to be partners, and we're here to support them throughout their health journey," Khamis said.

Physicians work with their patients to create individualized care plans that optimize a patients' health, and they're using technology and methods previously unused in West Michigan's primary care services to do it.

Among the innovations, physicians will use genomics to better understand how an individual's genes affect her health. "Using the same standard for everyone isn't going to work," Khamis said. Genomics will help physicians work with patients to build individualized care plans that work best with each patient's genetic makeup.

Strive is also thinking beyond the individual, and building community partnerships.

Every Wednesday, Strive offers a no-counter-required prescription through their Educational Series. Community partnerships with organizations focused on nutrition, exercise and more—like MVP—offer insight and expertise to help educate members on health and wellness topics and practices, such as yoga, gut health and eating healthy on the go.

"An engaged, educated patient has the path to wellness," Giles said.

"The patient/provider relationship is key," said Khamis.

That's why Strive physicians are on-call, 24/7. Even when the office is closed, members could e-mail their physicians with an emergency or pressing question—and no physician is booked ahead completely. Members are promised availability to meet the day of, or the next day, in events of emergencies. The availability not only means fewer trips to urgent care, but better care.

"You get better care if you're seen by the same team," Khamis said. "Continuous care allows you to optimize your plan."

Strive offers individual and corporate membership. To learn more, visit strive4u.org.

Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for West Michigan Woman.

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