How Trellus Health Elevates Chronic Disease Care: An Interview with Dr. Marla Dubinsky, MD

Blog | July 21, 2021

Dr. Marla Dubinsky, MD discusses how Trellus Health uses resilience-driven care to improve health outcomes, empower people living with chronic health conditions, and how breaking down barriers that prevent access to gold-standard care benefits everyone — patients, providers, and payers.


What is Trellus Health?

Trellus is a digital health company for chronic conditions with a mind-body focus and scientifically validated approach proven to build and strengthen resilience, change disease interfering behaviors, and improve outcomes for patients. We are the first and only connected digital health platform for chronic conditions that integrates physical and mental health — both of which are essential to achieving well-being.

By leveraging technology to drive communication and collaboration across multiple healthcare teams, Trellus can help people with chronic conditions improve resilience. In short, Trellus is a framework or a lattice that supports patients so that they can experience positive health outcomes and thrive.

In fact, the name Trellus was meant to embrace these principles of connectivity and positivity. A trellis is an interconnected supportive structure that allows plants and flowers to grow and thrive. The “us” at the end of our name represents the team and that connecting people is an essential part of the equation, and empowering patients to be equal partners in care.

What unmet market need drove you to start Trellus Health?

Through my clinical work and research in the field of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) over the last 20+ years, it has become abundantly clear that there are enormous disparities in the quality and coordination of care that patients living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis receive as well as a lack of focus on the impact of a chronic illness on one’s emotional well-being.

Imagine being 20 years old and hearing that you have been diagnosed with a chronic incurable condition that will require you to take medicines for the rest of your life and may lead to multiple surgeries and years of pain. Additionally, if left untreated or poorly managed, as it often is for years, the chronic suffering often results in a loss of hope, mental resilience, or the strength needed to bounce back or overcome this adversity.

Moreover, the cost to manage these conditions that start early in life continues to rise despite advances in therapies. There is a strong market for solutions that tackle the many unmet needs driving low quality and high cost care no matter who is paying.

How will Trellus Health fill this unmet need?

For a solution to be transformative, it must be holistic and personalized with a focus on both mind and body. It is through this lens that I and my co-founder, Dr. Laurie Keefer, PhD, founded Trellus Health to be the leading connected health solution delivering and coordinating resilience-driven care.

Through our innovative and scientifically validated approach, Trellus will help bend the cost curve by delivering quality healthcare but at a lower total cost by employing a multipronged approach.

Remove barriers

Trellus removes all barriers to accessing expert clinical and multidisciplinary care by using a virtual health approach to provide care to all patients, regardless of where they live. This includes breaking down healthcare siloes — unblocking miscommunication and enhancing coordination across care teams.

Aside from access to care, another barrier for some people is knowing when to seek care. By applying predictive informatics to aggregate and analyze disparate types of data, Trellus can help inform health decisions to preemptively alter future outcomes.

Partner with healthcare providers

Trellus partners with a patient’s trusted healthcare provider, we do not replace them. Together, we can deliver services and resources that may not be typically available or paid for in a provider’s practice or hospital.

Educate providers and patients

Trellus works to educate providers and patients on the current gold standard diagnostic and treatment guidelines.

What differentiates Trellus Health from other digital health solutions that are marketed for chronic conditions?

Most digital health companies are focused on higher prevalent, less costly conditions that tend to be diagnosed later in life such as diabetes and high blood pressure or are treating mental health in the traditional way — concentrating on treating illnesses such as anxiety or depression and not preventing them.

Moreover, none apply a scientifically validated resilience-based approach with a focus on the intersection of chronic physical conditions and mental health. Trellus has an exclusive license with Mount Sinai to apply the patent-pending Trellus methodology to assess a patient’s resilience which is used to guide the creation of a personalized resilience-building care plan.

The Trellus method has been validated on hundreds of patients with IBD at the Mount Sinai IBD Center and has demonstrated that by applying a resilience-driven approach as part of clinical care, we can increase patient resilience by over 70% and decrease unplanned healthcare utilization by over 85%.

Through our proprietary methodology, we are able to meet the increasing demand from payers to identify the high-cost high-need patient before costs have accrued. Once identified, Trellus can precisely deploy our solution to these at-need patients in partnership with their healthcare provider. Taken together, these actions can mitigate unplanned costly care and prevent negative disease outcome which benefits payers, patients, and providers.

How does Trellus Health define success for the patients they are serving?

The patient is at the center of it all and if the patient wins, we all win. If there is one thing I want our patients to know, it is that we get it, we see you, we hear you, and we are here to help. To effectively deliver care, you must look at the whole person.

If the care focus is just on treating the chronic physical conditions or just treating the mental health concerns, the patient is not receiving the gold-standard human-centric care they deserve. Our proprietary methodology integrates both aspects and is delivered through our TrellusElevate platform by our highly skilled, trained, and compassionate team of licensed health care professionals.

Through our signature programs, we give people a resilience toolkit so they can better self-manage their disease right now in the present and in the future when they experience life transitions and adversity.

We all experience transitions, that is just the circle of life. For example, we can go from being single to in a relationship, from not having kids to having kids, going to college, starting a new job, or transitioning into retirement. Some may experience these transitions over years while others can experience many all at once. Some may experience these transitions with ease while others may face an uphill battle.

We must remind ourselves of the strong warriors that we are and use the resilience toolkit that Trellus provides to help every person tap into those core behavioral tools that they can use to overcome adversity while simultaneously managing a chronic health condition.

Whatever is thrown you, we want to teach you how to keep your shield up and deflect any sort of negative impacts these transitions could have on the way you manage your care. We want all people who go through the Trellus program to come away with a “bring it on” mentality, so that they feel prepared to take on the next challenge life may throw their way. That’s what we really want them to be ready for.

Every time they’re faced with adversity, they know how to overcome it. That is the ultimate win for everybody — patients, providers, society, employers, payers of healthcare, and family and friends. When we have more thriving individuals, everyone benefits.

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