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Forum Health: Empowering Clinicians, Optimizing Health and Redefining Healthcare

Dr. Andrew Petersen | Co-founder anDr. Andrew Petersen | Co-founder and Chief of Staff | Forum Healthd Chief of Staff
Dr. Andrew Petersen | Co-founder and Chief of Staff | Forum Health

Treating an illness at its core requires a comprehensive understanding of the human mind and body that goes beyond mere symptoms. This pursuit of effective, complete solutions to chronic conditions has given rise to integrative and functional medicine. These approaches dive into the root causes of ailments, emphasizing a holistic understanding of the patient’s well-being. Forum Health stands at the forefront of this transformative movement, recognizing the importance of personalized medicine and whole-person healing. The organization identifies practitioners who share this vision, strategically acquiring and enhancing their practices, promoting a collaborative environment focused on patient-centered preventative care and using a root cause approach to disease with advanced diagnostics and treatments.

Forum Health’s commitment to excellence extends beyond acquisitions, encompassing the construction of new practices nationwide. This deliberate and strategic expansion, characterized by a supportive rather than disruptive approach, has driven Forum Health to the forefront of integrative and functional medicine healthcare. By crafting a network of thriving practices, the organization has succeeded in extending its reach and influence.

Contributing to Forum Health’s success is an expert practitioner—Dr. Andrew Petersen, Co-founder and Chief of Staff and Lyme disease specialist in integrative and functional medicine. With a focus on chronic illness, Lyme disease, hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative conditions, addiction recovery, weight management, thyroid disorders, and pain management, Dr. Petersen exemplifies the dedication to addressing conditions where conventional medicine approaches may fall short.

This exclusive feature dives into the world of Lyme disease, shedding light on how Forum Health has emerged as a trusted name in the healthcare industry.

Quest for True Wellness

In the early chapters of his career, Dr. Petersen assumed the role of Chief of Staff at a rural hospital in a remote Texas town of 2,000 people. This isolated setting, hours away from any city, forced him to confront a harsh reality—that managing symptoms wasn’t providing true healing for the patients under his care. He acknowledges, “I sent them to specialists, and they would return with the same diagnosis and a different brand of the same type of medication.”

His time in Texas served as a revelation, highlighting the need for a more effective approach to addressing people’s health issues. Dr. Petersen reflects, “Rather than merely diagnosing problems, it became clear that identifying the root cause was crucial.”

Venturing on his transformative journey, Dr. Petersen dove deeper into the field, completing a fellowship with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He candidly shares, “As I connected with fellow practitioners actively engaged in integrative and functional medicine, I became optimistic about the potential for Forum Health.”

His observations unveiled a deliberate choice made by physicians in this field, yet at times, they found themselves confined to specific areas due to the patient demographics they attracted. Dr. Petersen’s openness to treating challenging cases, such as Lyme disease patients, led to an influx of individuals seeking care for chronic illnesses— a daunting challenge that many doctors were reluctant to undertake.

His acquired skills expanded his capacity to serve a variety of patients, and he recognized the potential impact of the Forum Health concept. “If we could have a company that would allow physicians to have a practice that was more robust with greater offerings, then patients would be able to thrive and optimize their health while practitioners could do more,” he notes. Now, he can serve as a clinician, and Forum Health offers and implements additional care programs for patients.

Forum Health’s Four Pillars

Forum Health, guided by a visionary mission, has outlined four pivotal goals that encapsulate its commitment to transforming the landscape of healthcare. Dr. Petersen articulates these objectives, each contributing to the organization’s pursuit of redefining patient-centric, root cause-focused healthcare:

  1. Provider Collaboration
  2. Using a Root-Cause Approach
  3. Establishing Credibility in the Mainstream
  4. Data-Driven Interventions

Dr. Petersen emphasizes, “I find that most medical providers are on an island by themselves and fail to commune with their colleagues because they view them as competitors.” So, the first and primary goal at Forum Health is to promote collaboration among integrative and functional medicine providers, creating a supportive environment where the best diagnostics and treatments for patients can be discovered collectively.

The second facet of Forum Health’s mission revolves around empowering practitioners who aspire to practice medicine using a root cause approach. Many clinicians yearn to focus solely on patient care but lack the courage or knowledge to initiate such a journey. Forum Health steps in, offering a platform for practitioners to be employed, enabling them to concentrate on the practice of medicine while the organization handles the rest.

The third goal confronts the skepticism faced by integrative and functional medicine from conventional counterparts. Dr. Petersen asserts, “At Forum Health, our primary objective revolves around identifying and addressing the root causes of diseases, placing patients at the center of care and elevating the field of integrative and functional medicine to mainstream status.” Dr. Petersen envisions Forum Health as a significant and respected entity, offering credibility that encourages people to view integrative and functional medicine as a valid choice alongside conventional options.

The final objective encompasses the use of big data to validate the efficacy of interventions. Acknowledging the limitations of traditional research methods, Forum Health leverages a data lake and a network of physicians to collect extensive data. Through big data analytics, the organization aims to establish credible evidence for the effectiveness of various interventions, leading to a new era of data-driven validation in healthcare. Just as important, if the data shows that something is not effective, then Forum providers can pivot from the treatment and provide care that is supported by the data.

Navigating Forum Health with Vertical and Horizontal Synergy

At Forum Health, Dr. Petersen assumes a pivotal role as a leader and decision-maker, steering the organization towards its mission. His leadership philosophy is characterized by a dynamic blend of both vertical and horizontal approaches, employing a traditional top-down method while simultaneously adopting collaborative relationships with colleagues.

He articulates his principles, emphasizing, “Leading a team of providers at Forum Health is an honor, acknowledging that each member possesses unique expertise.” This inclusive leadership style values the insights of every team member, ensuring that success is a collective achievement.

The vertical leadership aspect involves Dr. Petersen guiding the overall direction of Forum Health. This ensures a clear vision and strategic alignment throughout the organization. Simultaneously, the horizontal approach involves collaborative efforts at various levels.

Success at Forum Health, according to Dr. Petersen, centers on a harmonious collaboration where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

Transforming Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

In a groundbreaking initiative, Forum Health is forging a collaboration with the Research Genetics Cancer Center (RGCC) – an advanced laboratory based in Greece renowned for its services in cancer testing and viral analysis, is at the forefront of a revolutionary approach to Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.

The process involves drawing the patient’s blood to obtain circulating DNA from targeted microbes, which is then sent to the RGCC lab. At the lab, unique genetic sequences from the targeted microbe are identified. Subsequently, a complementary oligonucleotide sequence is created, leading to what is known as Supportive Oligonucleotide Therapy (SOT). This highly effective and individualized therapy is administered through an IV, aiming to assist the body in overcoming viral and bacterial infections, including Lyme disease. The SOT molecules effectively block genes necessary for replication for the specific bacteria or viruses identified, inducing self-destruction by disrupting the replication process.

This collaboration allows Forum Health to take a pioneering role in accurate diagnosis and treatment for Lyme disease, especially considering the CDC’s report of nearly half a million people diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. each year. This collaboration offers a significant leap forward, addressing the limitations of conventional diagnostic tools and treatment in Lyme disease management.

In addition to the RGCC collaboration, Forum Health has developed two medically supervised programs specifically tailored to enhance the immune response and address neurological issues in Lyme disease patients. The GDRx program, a medical-grade detox program, and the BrainRX program, focused on neurotransmitter restoration, aim to provide comprehensive care for individuals affected by Lyme disease.

Furthermore, Forum Health prides itself on having exceptional Lyme experts, renowned nationally, who actively work to train other providers within the nationwide network. This commitment ensures that compassionate and competent Lyme specialists are distributed across the network, reinforcing Forum Health’s dedication to advancing Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment on a broader scale. The collaboration with RGCC, coupled with innovative programs and expert training, solidifies Forum Health’s position as a leader in revolutionizing the landscape of Lyme disease healthcare.

Beyond Controversy

Lyme disease, a subject entangled in controversy, poses a complex challenge for both patients and providers. While opinions differ on chronic Lyme disease and post Lyme disease syndrome, Forum Health recognizes the reality of these conditions, affirming the struggles of affected individuals and their need for comprehensive treatment.

Dr. Petersen sheds light on diverse and innovative treatment strategies. “Our providers use a spectrum of treatments, from antibiotics and herbal antimicrobials to oxidative therapies like Ozone IV and High Dose Vitamin C IV, targeting Lyme and co-infections,” he explains. Notably, Forum Health deploys supportive oligonucleotide therapy (SOT), an individualized, genomic approach administered through IV, empowering the body to overcome viral and bacterial infections associated with Lyme disease.

Equally critical is the emphasis on not only eliminating microbes but also fortifying the immune system. Over the past five years, Forum Health has developed dedicated programs for immune system support. Recognizing the interconnected nature of the gut-brain-immune axis in integrative and functional medicine, its approach extends beyond Lyme treatment, providing comprehensive support for its patients.

Dr. Petersen underscores the significance of specialized Forum Health programs, such as BrainRx, addressing neurotransmitter support—an essential consideration for those battling Lyme disease. Moreover, Forum Health’s offerings encompass unique treatments like ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for chronic pain management and trauma resolution, a critical option not universally available in traditional Lyme practices.

Breaking Barriers

Forum Health stands at the forefront of Lyme disease treatment, embracing cutting-edge diagnostic tools and treatments to redefine patient care. The integration of advanced methodologies like RGCC with Supportive Oligonucleotide Therapy (SOT) opens new avenues for patients nationwide, offering solutions that were once out of reach.

Conventionally, Lyme disease has been tackled with aggressive antibiotic regimens, yet the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that up to 20% of patients grapple with post Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), characterized by persistent pain, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. This challenge underscores the critical role of Forum Health’s nationwide network of integrative and functional medicine clinics, providing a lifeline for those in regions lacking specialized care.

“Forum Health is dedicated to enhancing patient outcomes,” notes Dr. Petersen, shedding light on a significant technological initiative. The organization has invested extensively in a data lake, a groundbreaking resource designed to collect and analyze patient information across the network. This endeavor aims to answer crucial questions that, until now, remained elusive due to the complexities of big data analytics.

In an era where technology intersects with compassion, Forum Health’s commitment to advancing patient care goes beyond boundaries. The data lake initiative reflects a dedication to unraveling the mysteries of complex conditions, ensuring that every patient, regardless of location, receives the best care possible.

Navigating Challenges, Building Success

Embarking on the journey to establish Forum Health, Dr. Petersen faced one of the most significant challenges – launching a nationwide network of integrative and functional medicine providers. The initial attempt, nearly a decade ago, came with the inherent struggles of any startup. Despite facing obstacles, the vision persisted, fueled by a determination to deliver root-cause medicine to individuals across the nation.

Dr. Petersen reflects on those early days, saying, “After meeting Phil Hagerman, Forum Health’s Chairman and CEO, and proposing the idea of a nationwide network to someone with the experience of building a company, he became excited about the possibility, and we tried again with renewed passion.” The collaboration with Phil injected new life into the venture, inspiring a fresh attempt at creating a network that would redefine healthcare.

The initial months of launch brought its share of growing pains, lessons learned, and challenges overcome. However, the opportunity to bring the vision to life kept the team passionate and committed. Driven by the belief that integrative and functional medicine care should be available to everyone nationwide, the team pressed forward.

Dr. Petersen’s conviction that Forum Health’s success was essential to achieving this broader goal fueled resilience. Today, with 34 practices and a continuous commitment to moving forward, Forum Health stands as an example to overcoming hurdles and achieving new milestones.

Beyond the Basics

In conventional medicine, the solutions for health issues often seem limited to pharmaceuticals, surgeries, or incremental lifestyle changes. However, Forum Health recognizes the path to recovery, especially in conditions like Lyme disease. It believes in offering a diverse array of choices, including hormone replacement therapy, medical grade detoxes, nutraceuticals, antimicrobial herbs, IV therapy, gastrointestinal support, and, other emerging therapies, often overlooked or disregarded in mainstream healthcare.

Contrary to the common belief that antibiotics alone can suffice in Lyme disease treatment, Forum Health acknowledges that a broader perspective is crucial. Antibiotics may target bacteria, but the complexities of immune system health, especially the role of the gastrointestinal system, cannot be ignored. A compromised immune system requires a comprehensive approach for a patient to fully recover.

Recognizing that Lyme disease often involves biofilm issues, Forum Health unveils a range of advanced treatments that go beyond the conventional. Supplements such as Lumbrokinase, Nattokinase, or Bromelain, or medications like sublingual heparin are identified as effective tools in combating biofilm-related challenges. Forum Health’s providers are equipped with this essential knowledge to optimize the use of these supplements, ensuring a more successful outcome for patients on their journey to recovery.

Forum Health collaborates with Inwell Biosciences, a professional-grade supplement line crafted by and for practitioners. This partnership is designed to provide both providers and patients with optimal options and prices, reflecting its commitment to accessibility and excellence in care.

Expanding Care

Dr. Petersen leads a transformative mission to ensure that every provider within the network is well-versed in Lyme disease. This ambitious goal encompasses recognizing the symptoms and diagnosis and understanding the nuances of this complex condition. Dr. Petersen envisions a network where practitioners are proficient in Lyme disease and know which specialists within the Forum Health network excel in its treatment. The aim is to adopt seamless collaboration and ensure patients receive the specialized care they need.

In alignment with this vision, Forum Health aspires to transcend geographical barriers. Dr. Petersen aims to propel Forum Health from its 35 practices to a nationwide network of 200. This expansion aims to bring high-quality care for Lyme disease and other health conditions to patients in every state nationwide.

As Forum Health embarks on this expansion, the goal is clear: to empower providers with knowledge, equip them to navigate the complexities of Lyme disease and other health conditions, and ensure that patients, regardless of location, can access the highest quality of care available.

Milestones in Transformative Healthcare

Forum Health has embarked on a remarkable journey, evolving from a modest beginning of two practices to a thriving network of clinics that now spans 36 locations.

A pivotal moment in Forum Health’s trajectory occurred with the incorporation of Dr. Shilpa P. Saxena’s clinic in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Saxena, now our esteemed Chief Medical Officer, brought a wealth of expertise that proved instrumental in structuring programs and systematizing our approach to practice.

The momentum continued, reaching seven practices within the initial months. This expansion, however, brought valuable lessons in practice management. In response, Forum Health recruited experts in operations, human resources, and marketing. This strategic hiring not only ensured the effective functioning of clinics but also allowed healthcare providers to concentrate on their core mission—providing exceptional medical care to their patients.

The recent addition of Doctors Studio in Boca Raton, Florida, led by the renowned longevity medicine provider Dr. Elizabeth Roy, marked another turning point. Dr. Roy’s role as the Chief Strategy Officer introduced a fresh perspective, further elevating Forum Health’s operational and collaborative dynamics.

As Forum Health continues to grow and evolve, each milestone reached reinforces its dedication to providing comprehensive, patient-centered care.

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