Functional Medicine Associates - how we pivoted during the pandemic

Pete Williams
Pete Williams
5
min read
May 24, 2021

What a year that’s been! And, as we edge towards the summer and the prospect of brighter nights, warmer days and less rain (hopefully) we wanted to reflect on our journey over the last 12 months, and how we, like everyone else, had to get used to the new normal of Zoom and enforced isolation but also keeping our business afloat. The end of March 2020 was a worrying time for us, and everyone else too. Overnight, our consultation diary emptied as everyone was told to stay at home. What were we going to do? But, like everyone else we readjusted and started the shift to offering online consultations for people who wanted to engage with a functional medicine practitioner online.

The face to face challenge 

Functional medicine is intrinsically about people so therefore it is natural that most consultations, up until now had always happened face-to-face. When faced with the pandemic and social distancing there were some practical challenges, especially when it came to dealing with patients initially. How were we going to conduct blood tests, for instance? Thankfully the world has moved on with us and so have the laboratories. We can now do almost all testing actually in our patients house. Even the testing we do on the performance of the brain can now be done in the comfort of our patients home.  

Long Covid 

As 2020 wore on we were being asked for consultations by people who had suffered from COVID-19, with a condition that is now known as Long Covid. These COVID long-haulers taught us a lot about this novel virus and that it is a whole body disease, which makes the focus on protecting and enhancing our immunity more important than ever. Whilst we think we are helping these patients, this new disease means that we and our patients do not have a locus of control. We don’t have long term research and therefore we cannot give time frames to better health. What we can say at this time is that patients need to pace themselves and be prepared that Long Covid recovery is longer, much longer  than we expected.

Life beyond the pandemic (hopefully) 

As the new cases in this country fall (let’s hope this continues), the vaccine program continues apace. It feels like the world (or our world, at least in the UK) that we are starting to squint our eyes and move towards the light. So, what have we learned? We can, like the rest, of the world practice Functional Medicine online. This has allowed us to widen our potential audience. Like most of our contemporaries, we predicated our practice on face-to-face consultations in London, which meant that our patients needed to be in London, or had to travel, sometimes taking a day or two days off to do so. Now we can help people, nation, or world-wide. It's clear that online works better than we ever thought and will shape that way we as a practise will go forward. It is very time efficient on both sides, there is no travel involved for patients and therefore no additional costs.  We also know, as things start to open up, we also want to continue and as we all feel safer, we still want to practice functional medicine face-to-face.