Wellness Reimagined: Dr Lana Castellucci Of World Thrombosis Day On 5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve and Reform The Health & Wellness Industry
An Interview With Maria Angelova
Time — waiting for research on the long-term effects of new medical products can mean the difference between life and death, and success and failure, for patients seeking cures for various ailments. While it can be tempting to jump on the influencer bandwagon of new remedies, the cost when done ahead of medical research can far outweigh its value.
In our world of constant change, and with life moving faster than ever, topics such as mental health, self-care, and prevention have become popular buzzwords. People are looking to live healthier lives, and there is superb care out there that is being offered. At the same time, there are misconceptions about the meaning of self-care and exercise. Many opt for quick solutions — surgery, pills — to dull the problem without adequately addressing the underlying cause. Meanwhile, many parts of the industry are unregulated and oversaturated. People with years of training are competing with people with weekend training. Many providers are overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid. The general public is not educated about asking the right questions when selecting a wellness provider. In the face of all this, what can be done to correct the status quo? In this interview series, we are seeking to hear from a variety of leaders in the health and wellness industries who agree that the wellness industry needs an overhaul and offer suggestions about what can be done moving forward. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lana Castellucci.
Dr. Lana Castellucci is the chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a Scientist at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She is Vice-President of Thrombosis Canada, a national organization promoting patient education and improved outcomes for people with venous thrombosis. She is recipient of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada National New Investigator Award and she holds a University of Ottawa Research Chair in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Safety . Dr. Castellucci’s clinical and research interests are focused on the prevention, diagnosis and management of anticoagulant-related bleeding and thromboembolism.
Thank you so much for doing this interview. It is an honor. Our readers would love to learn more about you and your personal background. Can you please share your personal backstory? What has brought you to this point in your life?
I am a physician who works with patients that have blood clots. At an early age, I realized that I wanted to be a doctor and it stuck with me throughout my years in school. I have been fortunate to work with many physician role models and mentors. I am very happy with where I ended up in my career. My patients are my true motivators to do this work every day and being a part of life-altering research that supports improving the health of my patients is very rewarding.
What is your “why” behind the work that you do? What fuels you?
As I mentioned, my patients are the motivation for what I do. They make me want to show up for work and are the reason I became interested in research and education within medicine. Whether they bring easy or complex questions, they inspire me to find the most comprehensive and up-to-date information to ensure their questions are answered in line with current research, clinical trials, and the knowledge of my peers. I find that every question a patient asks is an opportunity for all of us, as the larger medical community, to learn together. A big part of health and medicine is the industry’s constant evolution, and part of my “why” is the push my patients give me to stay a part of this cycle.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?
Research and clinical trials are a big part of my life and career and an area of my work that I find truly exhilarating. In addition, research, education, and knowledge translation are elements of my job that fuel me to achieve the most that I can. As Chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee and Vice-President of Thrombosis Canada, I can incorporate what we are learning and pass along that knowledge to the general public in a digestible and understandable way. I view this as a vitally important day-to-day aspect of my job. Through the development of strategies for healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers, I can translate what we know in the medical space, into curated information that helps patients care for themselves and their loved ones.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The mistake that comes to mind occurred long before I started my career in medicine, but is an incident I think about often, and one that changed my perspective in my current career. Back when I was in school, I worked in the deli section of my local grocery store. A customer with beautiful, long, curly hair was facing away from me and had pulled a ticket to be helped. I noticed them and said, “Can I help you, ma’am?”
The customer immediately turned around, and to my dismay, it was a man. Though he was not offended and continued on with the conversation, I was struck by it. I learned then the importance of initial conversations being face-to-face, to avoid awkward situations, and to ensure a more personal interaction.
I find this experience particularly relevant today when people choose to represent themselves in whatever way feels most true to themselves. We aren’t as tied down by society’s preconceived notions. As a doctor, being open and willing to ask each patient about their preferred pronouns and personal requests creates a safe space in which both involved parties can feel enhanced comfort and care. For me, this has completely changed my relationships with patients for the better. It is important that healthcare professionals do not feel embarrassed to ask these questions, as they can completely alter the patient experience.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. From where you stand, why are you passionate about the topic of Reimagining the Health and Wellness industries? Can you explain what you mean with a story or an example?
Let me begin with a fundamental premise: Medicine, health, and wellness are not, and shouldn’t be thought of, as one size fits all.
The reason I say this is that we are now in an age where social media really is the dominant news source. Within social media channels are influencers who are coming to the forefront as providers of new information and recommendations. Decades ago, this idea of “health and wellness influencers” didn’t exist, and now, it’s very dominant and a topic many people feel they can be experts on.
As a physician, I’ve spent a huge portion of my life learning about medicine in a way that most others do not. While some people think they’re the experts, they lack the formal education needed to verify their expertise. Though information can be readily obtained via social media, a lengthy education process is still needed to make sure people understand the true implications of the information that’s out there. Even if a solution works for one person, there are many factors to consider when deciding if it will work in the same way for another person.
The pandemic led us as a society to embrace wellness and work on ourselves to achieve the health status we want, including physical, mental and emotional states. Today, the idea of “wellness” is one that people interpret in many different ways. While I feel that there is a lot we can learn from others, including how an influencer’s personal experience can inform another person’s understanding of health, we must understand that every person defines wellness differently and expertly trained professionals are the best resources for that understanding.
When I talk about Reimagining the Wellness industry, I am talking about reimagining it from the perspective of the providers as well as from the perspective of the patients. Can you share a few reasons why the status quo is not working for both providers and patients?
The status quo doesn’t work in health and wellness because the information we have available is constantly changing. I often learn new methods or ideas for care before they make their way into mainstream platforms. As such, processes can change before you’ve even had a chance to fully learn them. The rapidly changing landscape can make it difficult to know who is truly an expert in the field, so we must take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves as best we can.
Just because a new idea is “hot” today, doesn’t mean it’s the best option — and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the most effective solution for you. Background research may still be needed to sort through the possible issues that could arise.
Patients are often the drivers of new methods, but it’s important to understand the science behind the method before you put it into practice. Before trying any new treatment or medication, you should always seek your doctor’s approval. For example, Blood clot patients often ask me about various herbal remedies that may have anticoagulant properties. Since quality research is often lacking when it comes to natural products, it is crucial to have a discussion with your professional care provider and weigh out the pros and cons before deciding to adopt that option.
Why do you think there is a good opportunity now to improve and reform the health and wellness industry?
I previously mentioned the term “influencer” which we see frequently on social media. Athletes, celebrities, actors, etc., often use their social platforms to position themselves as experts in something they’d like to expand into. They share what worked for them so others can try it. However, patients need to be aware of personal motivation when celebrities share these products that may not be applicable or appropriate for everyone. First, you never know what monetary incentive is playing a role in the promotion. Further, you don’t know the full picture of the influencer’s health history and situation which could make one solution effective for them, but ineffective for you.
As medical professionals, we have a role in educating people that one size does not fit all. Even if one person has a good outcome, doesn’t mean the same will happen for everyone.
Can you please share your “5 Things That Should Be Done to Improve and Reform The Health & Wellness Industry”?
I can do this quite simply: Education; Time; Respect; Cost; and Second Opinions. Let me explain.
- Education — we’re seeing a huge influx of people in Hollywood using Ozempic for quick weight loss, not necessarily under the care of a health care provider. Now, we’re seeing an uptick to the point that in certain areas, you can’t even get Ozempic for prescription purposes. Why one person chose to use the drug isn’t necessarily translatable to others.
- Time — waiting for research on the long-term effects of new medical products can mean the difference between life and death, and success and failure, for patients seeking cures for various ailments. While it can be tempting to jump on the influencer bandwagon of new remedies, the cost when done ahead of medical research can far outweigh its value.
- Respect — a patient may come to their doctor with something they’ve heard online or from a friend. When this happens and it’s something I’ve never heard of, I do my own research to provide them with an honest assessment. I feel that I am respecting them when I take their ideas and conduct supplementary research. That said, if and when I come back to them with my recommendation, I hope that my patients will listen and take my advice seriously. My primary concern is making the best choices for each patient and with considering each patient’s values. Mutual respect between doctor and patient can go a long way in finding the right solution for those involved.
- Cost — a lot of health and wellness is based on fast results or gimmicks that require significant financial investment. The cost of health remedies must be addressed during the research phase to identify whether it will be a fiscally sound fix to a given health issue.
- Second opinions — as more health and wellness information floods our feeds, it is of growing importance that patients feel empowered to consider second and third opinions before deciding on non-mainstream treatment plans for various conditions. Different health care practitioners may have their own unique perspectives, and when you compound this with the information coming from external sources like family and friends, influencers, and the internet, it is crucial that patients do their due diligence before moving forward with a new medication or remedy to ensure it is the best choice for their specific conditions.
From the patient side of the industry, can you please share a few ways that patients and recipients should reimagine what the wellness and healthcare industry should provide?
Sometimes, I feel that patients are looking for a specific solution to target a particular concern. Wellness can be focused on that, whether the ailment is physical, emotional or mental health related. If it’s a physical concern, there will likely be several different treatment strategies to try, and these will be driven by the goal of that individual. Trying to meet these goals will be different for everyone, even if they share a similar health issue. This brings us to the idea of prevention versus reactive care.
As we reimagine the health and wellness industries, much of the work to be done comes down to refocusing on preventative and proactive care, rather than fixing already present issues with invasive procedures. For example, inflation has caused access to healthy foods to become a challenge. Society should consider how we can work together to make healthy foods more affordable and accessible, as a step toward more proactive considerations of our overall health.
What do you think are the biggest roadblocks to reforming the industry? What can be done to address those hurdles?
Money is, and will continue to be, a big driver behind why obstacles to reforming the health and wellness industry are addressed the way they are. When we think about influencers sharing tips and products to support health, there can be a clear benefit to their messaging and expanded access to new information. However, they all have their own agendas and should be transparent about them. Otherwise, listeners may be unrealistic in their expectations, especially when an influencer has a vulnerable audience that can be easily persuaded.
I’m very passionate about the topic of proactive versus reactive self-care and healthcare. What do you think can be done to shift the industries towards a proactive healthcare approach? How can we shift the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike?
Let me provide a specific example to illustrate a larger point. When it comes to blood clots, risk assessments are key. People going into the hospital, getting surgery, experiencing pregnancy, taking estrogen-based contraceptives, etc., are at higher risk for developing a blood clot. So, having this base level understanding of the signs and symptoms of blood clots is crucial. Knowing this and knowing what you can do to prevent a clot is very important. Medical practitioners and the general public, especially those in younger demographics, are much better equipped to survive a blood clot if they are able to spot it and get treatment immediately.
So, when we talk about shifting mind-sets, let’s begin with education since that plays a big role in proactive approaches to self-care and healthcare. From a healthcare perspective, we’ve been reactive — a patient gets a specific ailment, and we respond to it accordingly. We need to focus on incorporating education early within school systems and across various socioeconomic communities on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle more proactively. We need to do a better job at prevention mechanisms and making sure people have consistent access to quality foods sources and incorporate exercise into daily activities. As people get older, we need to make sure preventative care is being done regularly, including screening procedures like Pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies, and more. These help us prevent health issues from spiraling out of control.
Patients knowing their own risk factors also is important. If someone has a family history of heart disease, they should know how to counter their risk. This is something society can be implementing now, to build a better, healthier future.
Thank you for all that great insight! Let’s start wrapping up. Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Try not to react to things that won’t matter in a period of time.”
Essentially, don’t react today if it won’t matter in the future. You could respond for immediate gratification, but if it doesn’t change the outcome, there are better uses of your time.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I would love to have a meal with Tom Hanks. I was watching one of his movies this weekend and he is funny! I feel like he would be such a lovely and interesting person to get to speak with. He is passionate about his work but remembers to have fun and not take life too seriously.
I appreciate your time and valuable contribution. One last question, how can people reach or follow you?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule a free consultation, click here.