Innovation Junkies Podcast

Dr. Tracy Gaudet & Disruptive Thinking

Dr. Tracy Gaudet, Executive Director of Whole Health Institute joins the Jeffs to talk about: what it takes to start disruption, where to draw motivation for transformation, & how innovation can drive change.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkies podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour we’re going to be sharing some specific strategies, tactics, and tips that you can use to grow your business. No matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business, and we’ll dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goal. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our GrowthDX, go to Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys. Jeff Standridge here, and welcome back to another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, it’s great to be back, Jeff. It looks like it’s blue shirt day. What do you think?

Jeff Standridge: It is blue shirt day. Did your wife lay out your clothes for you as well?

Jeff Amerine: Well, it was dark back there, but yeah, I think so. She must have been calling Lori and found out what you wearing.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. That’s right. Crockett and I do that all the time. We show up at the same place dressed pretty much the same way. Hey Jeff, we’ve got a great guest with us today and I am very, very excited. You know my first love was in healthcare, and so very excited to have with us, Dr. Tracy Gaudet. In September of 2019, Dr. Gaudet began her role as executive director of the Whole Health Institute based in Bentonville, Arkansas. Before that she served as a executive director of the Veterans Health Administration, National Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

She’s been at Duke University as executive director of integrative medicine. She’s board certified in OBGYN. Her accolade list is long and extensive. She was featured on a PBS nationally acclaimed special entitled The New Medicine, named by Shape Magazine as one of 11 women who shaped the world in 2011. She was recognized as one of the top 25 women in healthcare by Modern Healthcare. She’s the author of Consciously Female, a book on integrative medicine in women’s health and body, soul, and baby. Dr. Gaudet, it is so fabulous to have you with us today.

Tracy Gaudet: Oh, thanks for having me. I’m psyched to be here.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. Welcome to Northwest Arkansas. I know we were all extremely excited with the creation of the Whole Health Institute, and even moreso when you were named executive director. But before we get into the serious stuff, we like to click things off with sort of a random musing, just as an icebreaker. And the question of the day is what is your favorite way to relax on a cool fall Saturday afternoon?

Tracy Gaudet: Well, I don’t have anything super exciting, but I will answer it honestly. So, since yesterday felt like the first real day of fall to me, I don’t know, I’m not used to Arkansas falls, but yesterday was cool and beautiful. And although it wasn’t a Saturday, the first thing I did was sit outside. We have a small backyard, but there’s amazing trees here in Arkansas. I don’t know if you appreciate them, but being from Idaho, we don’t have trees, and the trees here are beautiful. And our backyard is like living in a forest with these amazing trees and the birds. And there is nothing I would rather do than sit outside in that environment, preferably by myself, with some silence and just soak it in. That is by far my favorite thing.

Jeff Standridge: Very nice. Very nice.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. That is one thing that… Well, there’s no shortage of that kind of tranquility in the Ozarks for sure. Jeff, what about you?

Jeff Standridge Well, it’s actually very similar. As you know, we have a place up on Greers Ferry Lake, and I was there over the weekend and I spent Saturday walking around on my farm, so to speak, my wildlife farm, feeding the animals and… I actually took several pictures of really cool leaves. And I remember thinking that these are great signs, leaves that were red, leaves that were yellow. You know, I love to see the leaves starting to turn. So spending time in the outdoors, that’s my way. And the outdoors might actually be my outdoor living area, watching football as well, but either way, spending time outside.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, it is definitely fall football weather, and more and more… It’s good to have a team to cheer for that’s got a chance at winning every time they play. But I’m kind of similar. We have a place that overlooks Kessler Park, which is a beautiful area up here in Northwest Arkansas. And a lot of times I’ll prop a chair up, back there on a cool evening, and we’ve got eight goats and four sheep and just… There’s a lot of peace and tranquility watching them be goats and sheep, and just relax, and occasionally with an adult beverage to enjoy as well. But it’s nothing like fall in the Ozarks, for sure.

Jeff Standridge: Let’s talk integrative healthcare and whole healthcare. Very excited. I know we had the opportunity to chat a couple of months ago, and I had a pretty extensive experience in my family with just this need for restorative healthcare, integrative healthcare. And so, talk a little bit about the Whole Health Institute and what you’re looking to do there, in Bentonville and around the world with the work there.

Tracy Gaudet: Yeah, absolutely. So as you all know, and we have known for quite some time, that our current healthcare system is really quite broken, and this is pre-COVID, of course. It’s only worse now, but the real… And I’m a physician, as you mentioned, so I feel like I can be critical of the system. I’m not critical of the people. The people are working tremendously hard, but fundamentally, we have a reactive healthcare system that is pretty good at reacting. Like if you’re in a crisis or a trauma, US medicine’s good at coming in and rescuing you and finding the problem and fixing it. But that’s waiting till the 11th hour, trying to find a problem and fix it. And so, if we really try, Whole Health is focused on helping people live their fullest life. So it’s based on what’s most important to that person in their life.

And in order to live your fullest life, if it’s beginning, middle, end of your life, you have to take care of your health; mental, psychological, spiritual. So Whole Health is really trying to do that. And our institute is trying to drive the systems that create those opportunities. And so it’s not just looking at healthcare delivery systems and [inaudible 00:06:58] hospitals and clinics. It’s working with employers, because when you think about it, where do you live much of your days, usually in the workplace or often in the workplace. So how do we address people’s health in working in the workplace? And what about in the community, where we live and work and play every day? So we are looking across these different strategies because there’s a lot of great work going on in [inaudible 00:07:20] employers in healthcare systems and in the communities, but those are not often coalesced. So we’re trying to drive change by partnering across those different systems.

Jeff Standridge: So when you talk about partnering with employers, give us an idea of what that looks like today versus what you think it might look like in the future.

Tracy Gaudet: Oh great, thank you. So employers are very motivated to address the health and [inaudible 00:07:43] of their people, for obvious reasons. A, they want to do the right thing. B, there’s a lot of cost savings if you do that well. But right now, employee health has been really focused on wellness programs. And as we know, wellness programs do not, in and of themselves, work very well. Partially because you have to be really motivated to take advantage of those programs.

So usually, it’s the people who are already addressing their health and wellbeing that take advantage of it and that’s great. But the vast majority, and the rest of us who are oftentimes just trying to get through the day, they’re not being touched by those programs. So the concept of a whole health program really flips the entire paradigm. When you’re talking about innovation, I was thinking about… informational, as opposed to something that’s… I would call continuous improvement of the current paradigm.

What makes [inaudible 00:08:35] transformational is you’re actually changing the purpose of the thing, right? So in this example, we’re changing the purpose of improving whole health to not be a lower your weight, drop your cholesterol, et cetera, but to actually help people live their fullest life. So there’s a huge peer-to-peer component of that, that helps people figure out what they want their health for and what really, really matters to them in their life.

And starting from that place, as opposed to, “Oh, you need to lose weight or address your diabetes,” et cetera. And that’s the empowerment piece. Once people are empowered, the program then helps equip them with new skills, new support, new ways to eat, new ways to move their body, et cetera. But the equipment doesn’t work if you’re not first empowered. So it’s a real shift in paradigm and a completely different way to think about in this example. Employee wellness programs, it’s not the same old thing. Doing more of the same is not going to work.

Jeff Standridge: So how do you… This mammoth healthcare system that’s been in existence for decades, arguably doing the same thing, or at least from the same perspective. How do you interrupt the thought patterns of what has been just a legacy healthcare system to begin thinking differently as a system?

Tracy Gaudet: Well, the question of real disruptive thinking, as you guys know, this is what you do in your work, that first of all, there has to be a reason for people to change or systems to change because change is really hard. So in that circumstance, you have a lot of reason to change If for no other reason, the economics of healthcare. The economics of healthcare [inaudible 00:10:14] are crippling the nation.

We will no longer be able to compete globally because our cost of healthcare, which is huge advising all of the time without good outcomes, is not sustainable. So there is now a wake up call for the nation to go, “We cannot, we must change.” So, that’s the first thing that has to happen. There has to be a real reason. [inaudible 00:10:37] was it that used to call it burning platform, right?

A reason to change, I guess that was [inaudible 00:10:42]. So, okay, we’ve got that. But then the question is, “Well, what does the transform state look like?” Unless we have a vision of what is the thing that you want to become, changing for the sake of change. And I’m sure you see this a lot in business, “Oh, we have new idea. We have something that’s innovative.” Okay.

But for sake of what? Let’s get really clear. What is the purpose of that change? And change for the sake of change is not going to work either. So really clearly identifying oh, in a transform system, people are actually engaged in their own health. They have the tools to address their self care. Their cost doubly go down. Their outcomes definitely get better. But the most important thing is they have their life back and they have a sense of being in charge of their health and wellbeing.

That’s a totally different paradigm. So that disruptive thing that have to have the burning platform, you have to have, in my opinion, a vision of the future state, even though we know we don’t understand it completely, and it will continue to evolve. And then you need to pull the levers that help you get from the current state to the future state. So a good example of this in healthcare is if we keep paying for and measuring, you get what you measure, right?

Jeff Standridge: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s right. That’s right.

Tracy Gaudet: And measuring transactions, numbers of surgeries, numbers of procedures, pharmaceuticals prescribed. We will get more of that, period. So we have to. One of the levers is actually changing how we incentivize and pay for healthcare. And if we actually pay systems to keep people healthy, when we pay for value or the terms value-based payment and value-based care, as opposed to transactional interventional fee for service, that is a huge driver in aligning the incentives to this future state.

Jeff Amerine: This is a giant undertaking, and I mean, it feels like a movement in many respects. As you think about it, in order for that to be successful, you’ve got behavior changes across a population of people that all have different motives, that all have different degrees of security or insecurity about out their life situation. Break that down for… Where do you go first?

I mean, classically, when we’re thinking about innovation, we think, “Well, we’re going to start with the innovators and the early adopters.” They’ll be the agents of change. And then you move through a population, eventually you’re to taking shots at the laggards and the Luddites and all those about who may be [inaudible 00:13:18] change. How do you think about it? And you mentioned some of that, but talk us through the process and the timeline for how it all works.

Tracy Gaudet: Yeah. Absolutely. I smiled when you said it sounds like a movement, because that’s exactly right. I mean, that’s how we think about this, that the only way it’s really going to change is if it becomes a movement, a grassroots movement that starts with people and organizations. I think the reason it’s an exciting time to be in this work, and I think the reason the time is right for the institute, is again, so much effort has gone into trying to drive change that affects health and outcomes and costs. And there’s tremendous work in these silos, right? In the silos of healthcare, employers, communities. I mean, we can go on and on and everybody’s in their silo trying to make a change. And the thing I think the institute can do, and where we’re starting, is first identifying. We don’t need to recreate the wheel, right? We are not the experts.

What we are is an entity that can convene and catalyze great work already happening. So mapping what grass work roots efforts are going on and what are they learning and how can we be aware of that and be in relationship with those grassroots movements, so we can learn from, and with them, right? Who are the thought leaders, nationally or even beyond from whom we can think together and learn? So the concept of thought leaders and mapping the thought leaders, and then for each of these areas, workplace communities, health systems, we’re looking at and developing partnerships where if there’s an entity, for example, if there’s an employer who says, “We are all in, we’re trying to solve this problem too.” And if the Whole Health Institute can partner with us and help us as we co-create this new approach to employee health, as an example, we want to do it.

We’ll share metrics, we’ll learn together, we’ll grow together. So our strategy is really about identifying the grassroots movements, the partners already making change. And then, we consider ourselves an innovation engine, so can we innovate together with those already committed and making progress and then learn, capture the outcomes, constantly evaluate what works and doesn’t work and then scale it. So then we want to share lessons learned. We have ongoing trainings that we’re offering at no charge to share and get the word out. So we then become a deployment arm, working with the organizations that want to take this on. That’s the long term. We’re just getting started and standing ourselves up, but that’s the strategy.

Jeff Standridge: Hey folks, we’ll be right back with the episode. But first we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our strategic growth diagnostic. For a short time only, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether or not our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to to learn more.

Can you share some of maybe an anecdote or two, or an experience or two, of where you see some really thought leadership happening, some really game changing things going on, from your experiences around the country?

Tracy Gaudet: Well, I think, yes, I think that… Around the country or in the region, which do you [crosstalk 00:16:38]?

Jeff Standridge: Either way. I’ll leave that to you.

Tracy Gaudet: Okay, because there’s a lot of amazing stuff happening here. So excited to be in Northwest Arkansas. So I mean, maybe I’ll just do a couple of conversations about some of the thought leaders in Northwest Arkansas. And there are many, so I hopefully won’t offend anybody by not mentioning other folks. But one that comes to mind is Arissa in the mental health world. And Arissa is an entity that cares for, I believe, two out of 33 Arkansans with mental health concerns or needs. And there’s a lot of that.

All of us, in my opinion, have mental health needs and concerns and addressing emotional wellbeing. Great example because we feel as though addressing mental and emotional and spiritual wellbeing is a huge piece of whole health, but we are not the ones to do that and provide that. But a great example of partnering with Arissa, who is very committed to this vision and this approach and transforming their approach to a more whole health approach, that we are now partnering with them or training their leadership, their clinicians. They have a group that we get to participate in that is driving this in their organization.

So it’s a small example, but a hugely important one, that they own it, it’s their vision and mission. We are partnering with them to help execute and implement and learn. And then that becomes a model, an example of how do you do mental health differently that can be disseminated nationally and globally? And of course, every community is different and every organization is different. So we certainly don’t mean to say, “Oh, well, we have the template and here, cut and paste, and there you go.” Northwest Arkansas is tremendously different than many other parts of the country, but in a living laboratory, an innovation engine, we can learn a tremendous amount and then begin to a partner more broadly, nationally and globally. So that’s just one example, but there are many,

Jeff Amerine: Do you see part of that, is [inaudible 00:18:39] on a variety of kind of small experiments along the ways. There are a lot of experimentation where you say, “Well, this is interesting. Is this something that can be scaled, when we try it?” I mean, you talk about some of the small experiments that you might undertake into your pathway towards making real change?

Tracy Gaudet: Yeah. I think that the experiments or pilots, innovation is the heart of the transformation. Because again, I think we can pretty clearly define, as many people have, what the problem is and what the future state is. But the real challenge is… You all know, you’re implementers, I’m an implementer. I mean, I love the vision, but if we can’t execute on it, it really makes no difference. So how do we actually get from the current state to the future state, the as is to the will be, right? Those are important things. So the way I believe, once you clearly define… Our best thinking right now of a transform state, what does it look like when people and families are empowered and equipped to take charge of their health and wellbeing in their community and in their workplace and it’s aligned with their clinical care?

Well, what does that look like? Once we define that, then the small pilots, the innovation, the learning of how do you actually make it happen, is actually absolutely critical. So, working with employers, one of many employers who are on board with this, [inaudible 00:20:06] Simmons and Todd Simmons, has this great vision of the future state and it says, “Hey, let’s learn together. Let’s address this with peers and through a whole different set of mechanisms.” So piloting in that regard is huge. And the health systems are all on board too.

Now the challenge with health systems of course, is that they have been really, really swamped with COVID, so they’re [inaudible 00:20:31] for, “Oh, let’s do new training.” Or if we can get a new way of doing things in the day to day is very challenged. However, I will tell you, every one of the health systems is on board and committed and moving forward with this. Our focus has shifted a bit to can we help the clinicians address their own self care? Can that be where we start? Because once people have a personal experience of it, then they can really get going and make it make a huge difference. So the learning together across all of those different things is a critical piece,

Jeff Amerine: You know, to follow up on your point. One of the things that has been a kind of a residue from the pandemic is we see the degree of stress that is placing on frontline clinicians, nurses, and all. In fact, to the extent that many of them are leaving the profession or are going to other care organizations that aren’t directly involved with all the triage and the difficulties with COVID. How are you thinking about their health and their mind-body connection, putting them in a better place?

Tracy Gaudet: Well, I think that’s a critical… That’s always been a challenge, even if you look at suicide rates among clinicians pre-COVID, it’s a profession that’s very much at risk. Then you layer on as you describe, the tremendous stress and difficulty of the circumstances that we’re in. And that is now prolonged, right? Like if you want to kind of create a perfect high stress environment, this is it. And you don’t see anything in sight and you’re surrounded by human suffering. And the human psyche was not actually designed to absorb so much suffering. It’s true for everyone, not just healthcare workers. And when you think about what the media exposes us to, we’re exposed to all the suffering around the globe every day, if we allow ourselves to be. And we’re not designed to do that.

So we all individually are dealing with tremendous levels of stress and the clinicians are over the moon. So our strategy really around that has been let us use whole health and these approaches to get grounded again in what matters most to you and taking small steps every day. I mean, simple things, like there’s simple pace breathing exercises that take less than a minute, that will lower people’s blood pressure, their adrenaline, their cortisol, will put them into a much more relaxed state, even while they’re surrounded by stressful circumstances. So teaching people those kinds of skills and approaches and letting them get support for their own self care is critical, because this is a long haul. And this is true, the other thing around those kinds of approaches, people think about it as it relates to their health. It’s also related to performance, right?

If you want to be able to think clearly at work, or if you want to get the most out of your people or your workforce, the more they are grounded and less stressed or have tools to manage their stress, the more productive they’re going to be. So, coming at that through the personal experience is a really… You referenced to grassroots movement. A grassroots movement doesn’t start because somebody says do it, right. A grassroots movement starts because people have a meaningful experience that puts them on fire, that they now want to be part of this movement. So coming through to [inaudible 00:23:51], and having people have an experience of this can change everything.

Jeff Standridge: I don’t remember who said it, but it’s one of my favorite, favorite quotes about change, that until the pain of change is greater than the pain of remaining the same… I’m sorry. And still the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change, people will generally choose to remain the same. Are you seeing among clinicians and your colleagues and as you travel the country and certainly in the region and beyond, are you seeing a readiness to change among the physicians and other practitioners on the front lines?

Tracy Gaudet: Yeah, I would say we’re actually seeing desperateness to change. I would describe pre-COVID nationally, a readiness to change because most [inaudible 00:24:36] were saying, “Look, the stuff you’re talking about that you call whole health, that’s what we went into healthcare for.” It aligns with… Well, you’re from healthcare, right? It aligns with their values. It aligns with… They went into healthcare to have that kind of relationship with their patients and the people they’re working with. So there was a readiness and said if you could please change the system, so I don’t get counted and paid by how many people I see in a 60 minute window, but rather really help them produce health and wellbeing, now he behaves as a purpose to [inaudible 00:25:10] service. There was already a readiness for that notion, in my opinion. And now there’s a desperateness. Now there’s like, “We are stretched so thin. We cannot keep doing this the way we are.” And perhaps that’s a hidden blessing [inaudible 00:25:30], but I think it really has shined light on these issues and will never be the same. And I don’t think we can issue [inaudible 00:25:39].

Jeff Standridge: Well, telehealth is one example. We talk about the only thing required for innovation to occur is the presence of constraints, and telehealth technology has been around for, what, a decade, seven or eight years? It was the adoption, was the issue. And the constraint of COVID basically said to clinicians either don’t get paid or use telehealth. And all of a sudden we went from zero to 60% of our visits via telehealth. And so, to your point, while we certainly struggle to see the hidden blessing, but COVID is a constraint that has pushed us over the tipping point perhaps to begin looking at what, maybe even just five years ago, might be considered radical change.

Tracy Gaudet: Exactly. No, and one of my favorite sayings is you can’t have breakthroughs without having breakdowns. It’s another way of really saying what you’re saying. And it is true and we’re in this massive breakdown right now. So I want us to do a massive breakthrough, and not simply survive and go back to the way it was. That would be a huge, huge loss if we did that. And so I think the opportunity is now for sure, and really disrupting the status quo.

Jeff Standridge: Well, let’s talk about the future of… Go ahead, Jeff. I think you were going to ask a question, before I transition.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. Just one thing. I mean, we’ve talked about a lot of the positivity associated with change and the movement and whatnot, but with every great change, there’s those that to their dying breath kind of stand in the way, their saboteurs to the movement. And you’ve talked about some of that, but how do you at least neutralize those groups? And I’ll give you a good analogy. There’s reason why there’s never any meaningful change to tax policies, because there’s an installed base of people, not necessarily politicians, that wouldn’t benefit by changing the tax policy. Their livelihood might come from complication associated with tax regulations and the fact that you need third parties to help you through it. How do you neutralize or turn those saboteurs that are fighting every day to slow down or stop the movement because they don’t want the change to occur?

Tracy Gaudet: Well, I love that question. I’ve always been working in large system change, so not just innovation and entrepreneurial, but really trying to disrupt large systems. And I will tell you what you already know, is that the large systems, that is absolutely true, there is nothing in a system that wants to change, right? And so, one of the leadership things, I think that’s important to pay attention to is when you… I always tell my team, because at the beginning of trying to do real innovation and disrupt large systems, usually there’s not much resistance to your point, Jeff. At the beginning, there’s usually not much resistance and people can get a false sense of, “Oh, this isn’t so bad. Everybody wants to see health and wellbeing improved. Right? What’s wrong with that?” That’s not actually what’s happening in my experience.

What’s actually happening is that nobody takes you seriously. They’re like, “Yeah, right, sure. We’ve seen your types before. Yeah, [inaudible 00:28:51] the system. Good luck with that.” So nobody bothers resisting. And this is all at a conscious level. This is the way in my opinion. I’m obsessed with systems thinking and systems theory. This is the way systems are. So they only get resistant once they start getting nervous, right? They start going, “Uh-oh.” There’s actually traction happening there. Or to your point, “Oh wow. We’re starting to move into value-based care. That means if I’m an interventionist, I could lose in this game.” So then what happens, if you follow the timeline of large system transformation, after that kind of beginning phase where no one’s paying attention. If you are making traction, people start to get nervous. I remember ages ago I was at university of Arizona and we started this program in integrative medicine, which at that point was really perceived as bringing in complimentary or even “alternative approaches”, even things like acupuncture and stuff is considered really out of the box back then.

And there was a picture, it was cartoon in New York times. I think it was in New York or something. And it was a one frame. It had these two presumably conventional looking doctors with their white coats and their stethoscopes walking out of the… looks like a health system. And the one says to the other, “I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that we’re becoming the alternative.” When that happens, when you get to this stage of transformation where people go, “Oh crap,” there’s actually traction happening here. And this might actually come to be the resistance kicks in. And it usually kicks in big and ugly because, and again, it’s not an evil thing, but it’s a survival thing. The system that’s dominant, the paradigm that’s dominant, wants to stay dominant. So it will do anything it can to squash the innovation. The best way to deal with that is hard.

I mean, it’s super hard and it takes a long time. One is just endurance, you’re staying the course. The other is, I really [inaudible 00:30:49] that through experience and incentives. So the more I can reach people who are resistant or systems that are resistant and understand their resistance. And sometimes it straightforward, big pharma is on my [inaudible 00:31:04] over here. Big pharma, they not the surface, we abandon whole health because pharmaceutical use goes down. Well, what are we going to do about that?

Well, hopefully we make them a partner in the future state and they begin to see their own innovative opportunities for their industry in a whole health world. If we don’t engage them, they will consciously or unconsciously as an example, work to undermine that system change. So, I think it is, and it sounds kind of cliche-ish, but bringing those systems in early, and as leaderships early, helping them own and see their future state, because to your point, if this is successful, it will not leave the same. And outpatient costs go down and interventions go down and pharmaceuticals go down. So how can we partner with those systems to be a part of that transformation? Otherwise, it will be huge resistance. There is always huge resistance.

Jeff Amerine: And we kind of have to, because we’ve got an aging population on a worldwide basis. So it’s not like we’ve got a choice in the matter. We’ve got to find another way to do it. And Jeff, you were about to ask [crosstalk 00:32:16] and thank you for that, Tracy. It was great.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. I was going to transition a little bit. We’ve added in the state of Arkansas, two osteopathic medical schools in the last six years, and now we’re going to be adding a second allopathic medical school in Northwest Arkansas with the Whole Health Institute. Tell us about the vision for that medical school and how will it be different than what we’re used to?

Tracy Gaudet: I’m so glad you asked that question because it’s another agent of change, is so… Yes, so we are helping, and just for the audience, it’s important I think for the audience to be aware that the Northwest Arkansas community identified that they wanted a school of medicine. And so it wasn’t something that we came marching in and said, “We’re going to do a school of medicine here.” Actually, it wasn’t even on my original radar screen until I got here. And that the region said, “We want another medical school up here.” As you said, two great osteopathic schools are in the state and then UAMS, and Little Rock primarily. So what’s that about? And what’s the opportunity. So when the said, we want another medical school here, to serve this population and help us with the physician shortage that we have, we went, “Wow, well, if the region is supportive of it, we could create this.” It’s a conventional four year MD program.

And because we’re building it from scratch, we have the opportunity to integrate whole health throughout that education and training. And that has been a problem for driving transformation in the existing situation. Because right now, to your point, the current medical school curricula across the nation is jampacked for four years. And now, you want to march in and say, “Well, there’s a new philosophy and a new approach, and yes, you’re still going to learn surgery and you’re still going to learn how to deliver babies and… but you can do that in a whole health approach, which is a very different philosophy and approach.” It’s very difficult to integrate that education and experience into an already existing mature medical [inaudible 00:34:19] program. We have the opportunity to do now, because we’re starting from whole cloth, is build that in from the beginning. So in a practical way, it will look different, is the physician is in a whole health approach, no longer the center piece of the healthcare team.

I mean, people may not like me saying that, but they’re an incredibly important part, but the team now has not only other providers like nurses or nurse practitioners and PAs, et cetera, but has other team members, like trained peers. Peers who are trained in a whole health approach. And they’re the ones having conversations with people about their life and what matters to them and what they want their health for. Those non-clinical things are much better done by whole health peers and there’s coaches. And there’s other members of the team that when you’re trained in that model as a physician, you go, “Wow, I don’t have to do it all.” This is a very different interdisciplinary team. That’s even broader than what people are used to thinking about. So we get to build that here in conjunction with our partners. And there’s a tremendous amount of freedom. It’s also a huge lift and it’s a lot of work, but in terms of innovation and driving change, to model that and pilot that, and then disseminate the curriculum and disseminate lessons learned around the nation and globe is going to be a hugely exciting opportunity.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. We were talking with Dr. Tracy Gaudet, executive director of the Whole Health Institute in Bentonville, Arkansas, about the future of healthcare and the role that she and her team at the Whole Health Institute are playing in transforming care across, not just the country, but around the world. And it’s a pleasure having you with us today, Tracy,

Tracy Gaudet: Thank you so much. I love talking to you guys.

Jeff Amerine: Oh, we’re really glad we had you on. And the one thing I can say for sure is people ask sometimes what’s the definition of an innovator or an entrepreneur. And it’s somebody that is perpetually dissatisfied with the status quo in my book. And you fit that mold to a tee and we’re so glad you’re here.

Tracy Gaudet: Oh, thank you so much. I mean, I read about you all and, and your organization. I was like, “Oh, these guys are so likeminded, I can’t wait to talk to y’all.”

Jeff Standridge: Well, it has been a pleasure visiting with you. And we hope for… maybe get you back in a few months to talk advancements that have occurred since today.

Tracy Gaudet: Absolutely. And thank you so much for reaching out, and keep up the great work y’all [inaudible 00:36:45].

Jeff Standridge: Will do it. Thank you so much. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks. This is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us, and don’t forget to share us on social media.

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