Blue Cross VT Supports Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle medicine conference attendees

We are supporting a cohort of 26 local health care providers with a scholarship to Lifestyle Medicine education and training sessions.

Berlin, Vermont — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is supporting its first cohort of 26 local health care providers with a scholarship to Lifestyle Medicine education and training sessions.

This effort is part of Blue Cross VT’s focus on planning, development, evaluation and implementation of effective lifestyle medicine strategies that address the root causes of chronic disease. Attending Vermont providers come from across the health spectrum, including doctors (MD), physician assistants (PA-C), advanced practice nurses (APRN), physical therapists (PT), and dieticians (RD).

Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based educational approach that can address up to 80% of chronic disease, while empowering and motivating patients to take control of their own health through sustainable behavior change. Implementing these practices have also shown a reduction in provider burnout. Four content tracks will be offered encompassing each element of lifestyle medicine and will include behavior change, practice integration, and health equity.

“This initiative recognizes that by working to shift patient behaviors to change their underlying diet, exercise, sleep and stress, health care providers can help to stave off chronic conditions that have the highest prevalence in Vermont, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease,” says Dr. Tom Weigel, Chief Medical Officer for Blue Cross VT. “By supporting our providers, we are making an investment in the future health of our members.”

Lifestyle medicine is a whole-person approach to wellness that gets to the root of what makes our bodies thrive. Therapeutic lifestyle interventions work with patients to include more whole-food, plant-predominant eating, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections. Each of these are key to preventing and treating chronic conditions. Implementing lifestyle changes can alleviate the need for pharmaceutical or surgical interventions and can combat significant risks of debilitating chronic diseases. These practices also support people through the phases of life that come with their own natural challenges, such as menopause, a slowing metabolism, stress, and an aging body.

“This conference is the call to action we need to create a future where the overwhelming burden of chronic disease is prevented, treated, and even potentially reversed, with easily accessible and intensively-administered lifestyle medicine interventions provided at an effective therapeutic dose,” says Let’s Lead Chief Executive Officer Elisabeth Fontaine, M.D. ABOG, Dip ABLM, FACLM, ACC. She was the first health care provider in Vermont to become board certified in Lifestyle Medicine in 2017. Practicing as an OB/GYN at Northwest Medical Center for over 27 years, she saw firsthand how important the tenets of lifestyle medicine are for birthing mothers. “After many years of integrating lifestyle medicine in my practice, I am thankful for Blue Cross VT's support in encouraging more physicians to focus on prevention.”

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) three and a half day conference offered four distinctive educational tracts including; Allied Health Professionals, Business of Lifestyle Medicine, Science of Lifestyle Medicine, and the “How-to” of Lifestyle Medicine.  “ACLM is delighted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s commitment to ensuring physicians and other health professionals are prepared to practice lifestyle medicine in the communities they serve” said ACLM President Beth Frates, MD, FACLM, DipABLM.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is Vermont’s only local, not-for-profit health plan. For over 40 years, the company has been enhancing the health and well-being of the Vermonters we serve by offering innovative plans to individuals, older Vermonters, and businesses. Our employees are dedicated to developing new ways to support high-quality care, programs, and events that promote wellness.