Dr. Dan Carlin is the founder of WorldClinic, an ultra-concierge telemedicine practice that’s been caring for the family office community and their clients since 2004.

Russ Alan Prince: It appears Covid may be behind us, what have we learned?

Dan Carlin: For the last two years, Covid-19 has been a rolling national tragedy, destroying many of the cherished beliefs we held about the US hospital and healthcare system. One of those beliefs was that our hospitals had both the capacity and resilience to deal with such a crisis. 

We did not have either. There was a serious lack of capacity and the resilience that characterized most of the American industry was absent, replaced by Federal edicts that could not account for situational variability and the local Covid incidence. 

There are however two silver linings to this otherwise dark cloud.

First, a new industry was born. Telemedicine is the practice of medicine at a distance, enabled by technology and now fully adopted into many physician-patient interactions. This is a huge leap forward in medicine and likely marks the beginning of the widespread adoption of connected medical practice as a foundational component of good healthcare for telemedicine is better at enabling better long-term prevention than the traditional office-based annual physical or episodic blood pressure check.

Second, Covid showed us how bad things can get when there are not enough hospital beds for everyone. In this regard, Covid was a “shot across the bow,“ giving us a glimpse of the future where a demographic tidal wave of healthcare-consuming retirees—90 million retirees in a nation of only 350M citizens—will overload our hospital-based resources. 

In this regard, Covid was our “canary in a coal mine,” showing what things look probably like 10 years from now. To that end, it guides a personal strategy based on clarity. To wit, every wealth manager, lawyer, accountant, and their clients should do everything they can now to forestall the need for hospital-based healthcare as long as possible. In short, Covid teaches us how necessary it is to take charge of your own primary care and prevention right now so you can move back the date of your first serious personal healthcare event. You will likely live much longer in the process.

Prince: What did entrepreneurs, business leaders, and wealth managers take away from the Covid pandemic?

Carlin: Covid-19 presented a challenge that resulted in whole new ways of thinking around workforce health, shareholder risk as well as the very definition of the workplace. It is now clear that many workers will not be coming back to the office on a permanent basis. 

Executives need a distributed medical care infrastructure—enabled by telemedicine—for their distributed at-home workforce. It’s also clear that almost all firms would benefit from having access to objective medical expertise for guidance on pandemic/contagion workforce risk—as it pertains specifically to their particular firm.

Also, as business travel starts to reengage, we are also more aware of the “Duty of Care” mandate that firms have to ensure the continuity of good healthcare for key people—wherever and whenever they are on business travel. This is all especially true for family offices that have distributed operations as well as mobile family members and executives.

All of these issues are now a priority for leaders who know that ultimately answer to their shareholders who expect them to protect their workers, their profitability, and the firm’s reputation. Business leadership will be demanding these resources from the marketplace and I suspect you’ll likely see some emerging companies that address these needs before they become a threat to company operations. 

Prince:  You mentioned taking charge of your own primary care and prevention. Can you tell us more about that?

Carlin: High-net-worth people have a strong tendency to stay healthy. This is not a coincidence. 

Almost all high-net-worth people have the mindset of a successful portfolio manager. By this, I mean they are good at recognizing risk. They tend to see things very objectively. They are also good at tracking the metrics that define risk and they are disciplined in their pursuit of lowering the risk.

I will recommend that every human being adopt this same mindset. Treat your health like the essential asset it is. 

You can do this in three ways.

First, look at your individual risk. Investigate your family’s medical history to see what conditions you’ve been genetically programmed for. Then, identify the lifestyle behaviors that lessen their impact and adopt those positive behaviors. Likewise, identify those behaviors that enhance their impact and stop those negative behaviors. A good place to start is with alcohol and obesity if you are not sure. 

Second, engage the process. Get an annual full physical with committed follow-up on any new issues or points of risk. I find this latter component to be the hard part as hospital systems rarely have the deep infrastructure or applicable billing mechanisms to make the follow-up automatic. If the follow-up to an abnormal finding or lab result is not happening, spend the time and resources to make sure it does. This often involves engaging a committed concierge physician.

Third, get absolutely serious about your own numbers. 

Every human being has a distinct propensity to develop a specific disease. Through the emerging practice of predictive clinical analytics, your personal disease risk may be revealed through an assessment of a compendium of key lab values and cancer/protein markers.  The specific compendium of your numbers will be identifiable if you’ve completed the two tasks mentioned above. 

For example, if you have a family history of heart disease and your annual screening shows an elevated level of LDL cholesterol, a preventive cardiologist can assess you through a compendium of even more detailed metrics to guide the management of your future heart disease. 

Prince: Dr. Carlin, is there anything else you’d like to share with PW readers?

Carlin: Covid has changed our healthcare system dramatically. I hope that this is a permanent change and we do not go back to office-based healthcare as the fundamental basis for ensuring our health. All of us have grown accustomed to distributed service models in banking, shopping, and personal services. It’s high time institutional medicine adopted these innovations to serve us, the patient. 

Our nation’s health is at stake.

Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and one of the leading authorities in the private wealth industry. He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs and select professionals. Connect with him on LinkedIn.com.