The Cleveland Clinic is considering launching two wellness businesses and a franchise of disease reversal centers — the latest evidence that the institution known worldwide for its heart care is taking a leading position in the $100 billion wellness industry.
Dr. Michael Roizen, the Clinic’s chief wellness officer and leader of its Wellness Institute, is working to spin off the health system’s first wellness businesses — a natural beauty Web site based on his YOU: Being Beautiful book with co-author Dr. Mehmet Oz and an email-based wellness coaching business.
“We’re exploring how to start a conversation around beauty that is not purely esthetically driven, but an holistic, healthy approach to beauty,” said Steve Lindseth, a serial information technology entrepreneur who as part of the Clinic’s 18-member Industrial Advisory Board is looking into the commercial merits of both businesses.
“Mike has a unique way of engaging with people so they listen to him,” Lindseth said. “He makes a compelling argument that if you do a few things, you can have a dramatic impact on your health.”
Roizen also is talking to people who could help realize his dream of opening one disease reversal center for every five fast-food restaurants nationwide.
The centers would be based on the Wellness Institute’s Lifestyle 180 program, which runs group sessions that teach patients to manage or reverse 10 diseases – ranging from diabetes to breast cancer — with diet, exercise and stress management, as well as traditional drugs or surgeries.
That dream doesn’t end at America’s borders. Roizen has been talking to public health officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where the Clinic already manages one medical center and will manage Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi when it’s completed.
“So part of the joy is the same programs we can offer in Cleveland and that Clevelanders can take advantage of, we may be able to use in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to help citizens there,” Roizen said.
“The chance of our getting to do disease reversal for larger groups of people in the same way that we’re able to do it individually” is exciting, he said. It’s an opportunity to “make a larger impact with no larger cost to society.”
If the businesses are commercialized, that would be done by Cleveland Clinic Innovations, which licenses the Clinic’s technologies or spins out companies to take those technologies to market.
“That’s how we commercialize everything here,” Roizen said. “Whether it is intellectual property from how we manage our bed turnover or intellectual property from the software we developed in wellness for coaching.”
The Clinic has been walking the wellness talk for several years. In 2005, it banned smoking from its main campus and two years later stopped hiring smokers. In 2007, it banned trans-fats from its menus (so long, McDonald’s) and put healthy snacks in its vending machines.
The Clinic started 2008 by establishing its Wellness Institute and later began offering free yoga classes and Weight Watchers services to employees, and a weekly farmers’ market to employees and the community. Last year, it rolled out a GO Foods! label for healthy foods in its cafeterias and at local grocery stores.
The institute also is where the Clinic’s wellness businesses are based — the set of services from executive physicals to workplace exercise programs to a Web site that offers hundreds of wellness products to buy.