Season 1, Episode 8: Transcript
Angela Greenwell: Welcome, everyone. Thank you for joining us. You’re listening to Atlanta Business Impact Radio with Veanne Smith, and I am your co-host, Angela Greenwell. Atlanta Business Impact Radio is a podcast that showcases some of Atlanta’s most innovative and forward-thinking business and technology professionals. In our first season, we take a deeper look into the world of healthcare IT. In today’s podcast we will look at a new wellness solution that helps professional and recreational athletes discover and treat imbalances in the body to avoid injury and achieve peak performance. Both Veanne and I are very excited to welcome as our guest Ben Tucker of Fusionetics.
Veanne Smith: Welcome, everyone. Thanks for joining us. This is Veanne Smith with Atlanta Business Impact Radio. In this episode of our podcast, we will look at a holistic sports wellness solution that helps professional and recreational athletes discover and treat imbalances in the body to avoid injury and achieve peak performance. I’m excited to welcome Ben Tucker as our guest today, to talk about this topic.
Ben started his career as a professional pitcher, and is now a business executive in the health and fitness industry. Ben has over 10 years of experience working in health and wellness related companies, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the Health and Fitness Provider Network and ShareCare, where he was responsible for creating new revenue streams, company growth and category leadership. Now, Ben is the COO for Fusionetics. Hello Ben, and welcome to Atlanta Business Impact Radio.
Ben Tucker: Veanne, thanks for having me.
What are the challenges of professional athletes?
Veanne: Alright. So, I look forward to our conversation today because I love what Fusionetics is all about. But what I want to start with is your background. So, since you’ve been a past professional athlete, can you talk to us about some of the challenges that professionals face in order to stay in top form?
Ben: Sure. I think it’s evolved over the years, certainly since I was playing, but a lot of it is still the same. Injuries are such a huge impact to an athlete’s life, and it seems like you’re always coming either off an injury and recovering from one, or could be leading into one, and so what I’ve learned over the years, in my experience with NASM back in the day, and all the way now in Fusionetics, where it’s a lot more honed, is that the reality is we don’t have to be always going in between injury to injury, that about 80 percent of any non-contact injuries that we have, or that we can have, are completely preventable. And so that’s what the premise was in our creating and developing Fusionetics.
What are the different industry approaches to dealing with injuries?
Veanne: Very cool. So, I’d love to maybe talk about some of the different industry approaches there are out there in dealing with some of the issues.
Ben: Sure. Lots of different ones. You see everything from strength training to chiropractic to what they do in athletic training: ice and stim and physical therapy. All of these things have a place within an athletic performance — or what you do from an athlete’s perspective.
Veanne: Ice and stim?
Ben: Ice and stim. It actually works in certain —
Veanne: Can you tell me what that is?
Ben: Sure. You’re able to use cold treatment, as well as a stimulation machine that stimulates the muscles…
Veanne: Ice and stim, got you.
Ben: Ice and stim, yeah. So you’ll see it at — many times where an athletic trainer may be utilizing it after an ankle sprain or something that somebody has. A pulled muscle, something like that. But all of these modalities, all of the things that we do from an athletic perspective, they all have a place. What we try to do is have a sequence for what happens. There’s a time and a place for each one of these, and there’s a spectrum that you’re on at any given time, between fully healthy and non-healthy. The idea is to make sure that the individual or the athlete has exactly what they need at that time to maximize their performance and reduce their risk of injury, and increase their overall durability.
What is Fusionetics’ approach to injury treatment and prevention?
Veanne: Cool. Interesting. Okay, so maybe you could talk about — we’ve talked a little bit about some of this, but let’s tie it back to Fusionetics. So maybe talk about the history of your company, and talk about your kinesiopathic approach to that.
Ben: Sure, so our company started officially in 2012 in October. We built the platform itself over most of 2013, and we ended up launching it in late August, early September of 2013. But the company goes way back before that. Early days, where Dr. Mike Clarke — my business partner and our CEO — developed a system called the Optimum Performance Training Model. He did that and brought that into the National Academy of Sports Medicine as an education tool.
Prior to that, Mike had been working in a clinic as probably one of the lead clinicians — probably really in the world — as a physical therapist. And so this system, both clinically and then tapped into our research park with the University of North Carolina, has been continually refined over about a 20-year period, until we finally got to the point where we said, I think technology has caught up to a place where we can actually have a data input system that leads to the specific outcomes that we are trying to communicate to people to be able to help more people get this level of service, than we could on a one-on-one basis.
Veanne: Had there been use of technology prior to this revelation, or not at all?
Ben: There had been attempts, but we had never gotten to a point where it was — the technology itself, the database structures, the ability for us to really refine what those systems needed to be and the algorithms required to be able to truly get the answers, which for us was the key. It’s one thing to have a data input system and track lots of data. You see a lot here about sports science, and they’re gathering metric after metric after metric, but nobody knows what to do with that data. What we do is we actually grab the data, but then specifically turn it into the exact solution that an individual needs. That’s the unique part, and that’s what we needed to finally get it when we launched the original platform.
Veanne: Can you give us an example of maybe a condition, you know, that we could all listen and relate to, and then a treatment plan and what that looks like, you know, in context for our listeners?
Ben: Sure, and I’m the non-science guy, so let me make it fictitious. [chuckle]
Veanne: [chuckling] Okay.
Ben: [chuckling] Sure. So we had actually been talking a little bit about back pain when I walked into the office today. Back pain can manifest itself from a number of different things, and I think about 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain at one point or another in their life. Back pain can come from a lot of different things. Typically the way that it’s treated is you’re going to go in and treat exactly where the back hurts. You might take some drugs to be able to make that feel better, you may put some ice on your back, you may get some stretches that are specifically for your back. You continually work on the back. Well, what we found is, why does the back hurt at all in the first place? And so then you can go back through, and find out via some assessment that it could be a different part of the body that’s causing an imbalance that’s ultimately manifesting itself in pain and discomfort in the back.
And most of the time when we’re working with people who do have back pain, it tends to be from something completely different. It tends to be from maybe a hip, lack of mobility in the hip, or lack of mobility in the ankle, and then once that area ends up being fixed or strengthened or whatever it needs to have happen there, the back pain tends to go away. And people are baffled by this because they assume, “My back hurts. I have to treat my back,” and that’s not necessarily the case. You need to treat the root cause of what is happening. Treat the root cause, and it fixes what has been manifesting.
Veanne: So does your technology help figure out what the root cause is, if it’s not your back?
Ben: It does—
Veanne: Or is that more doctor…
Ben: No, it is the technology itself. We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Mike Clark work with us, and what we did is we really set out to map the human body, in terms of the muscles, the joints, the bones, and then set up a specific assessment process that we could duplicate with other practitioners, that allows you to really check and see if there’s movement dysfunction occurring during certain movements. And so by simply clicking yes or no, a trained person can easily go through the same process that Dr. Clark would.
Instead of going through all the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out what that means from a solutions standpoint, the program automatically gives you the answer at the end, so instantaneously you have a program specifically designed for that individual, and now we actually give people the option — do they want to do that on their own? We now have a self-care program that people can do, or all the way up to working with a high-level practitioners that they could utilize the system.
Veanne: Alright, so if I’m understanding correctly, beyond the use of technology to do the assessment part, you’ve probably used technology to do other things in your business. For example, maybe scaling your business, or bringing the technology closer to the next patient, or the athlete. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Ben: Sure, I mean, technology’s been a massive advantage for us. If you can imagine having some brilliant information without any way to get it in the hands of people who need it most was exactly where we were in 2012. Now it’s very simple. We actually implement the technology with a team or a group. We take about a two-hour total training for somebody to be able to utilize it, and within that time period they have all the tools necessary that they have to literally get the same answers and outcome as somebody like Dr. Clark would working inside their business.
Veanne: So you’re not just relying on Dr. Clark anymore, it seems. [chuckle]
Ben: No, we’ve been able to duplicate Dr. Clark to [crosstalk][09:23] to as many people as we can.
Veanne: Cloning Dr. Clark. [chuckle]
Ben: That’s the key. If we can clone Dr. Clark completely, we’d be good. [chuckle]
Veanne: I assume you’ve probably had those conversations in your office. [chuckle] I can only imagine.
Ben: [chuckling] We have.
Veanne: [chuckling] We all have those conversations. If only I could clone…Johnny and Mary, so…Okay, so what about hospitals? Does your technology — Fusionetics — do you find that at hospitals?
Ben: We do, so — I’m going to take one step back. So, our overall business strategy was to really layer in four key areas of the business. We started with really going and getting involved in elite team sports. That tends to be where people are trying to get to, but that’s where we already started from. So we started with team and elite sports to make sure we could prove out that this model works specifically with the best of the best on the planet. The intent then was to really get involved with the healthcare systems that were typically partners with these elite organizations, and then to be able to utilize the human capital and infrastructure and voice that the hospital systems have to be able to really deliver that to the community
So it goes from sports to healthcare, healthcare and fitness — fitness is a big component as well, people that are already healthy, keeping them healthy and keeping them engaged. And then ultimately part of our strategy in this year is to really get to the end user, and to be able to do that in a more direct fashion. So thinking about it in a “good, better, best” scenario, good: we can get something to the end user that’s going to be 80-plus percent accurate in terms of what they need. Best being working with the most elite athletes on the planet, where you have a high-level practitioner that’s giving them 100 percent exactly what they need. The opportunity to do and give individuals something specific for them that can help them and cover about 80 percent is just a huge opportunity for us to be able to deliver.
What is the Fusionetics’ Body Armor Clinic?
Veanne: So I understand that you’ve had some other initiatives kind of building off of Fusionetics. I think it’s called Body Armor. Maybe can you tell us about that — about it and what you’re accomplishing with that?
Ben: Sure. The business that we just launched in Milton, Georgia. And what we’ve done with Body Armor is taken all of the information, all of the technology that we developed with Fusionetics, and then have a delivery system of the most highly trained practitioners that come through our system to work in an environment to really bring what you could get at an elite team — maybe what you would get with the Atlanta Hawks in the training room — and bringing that to the everyday person at a cost and a price point that competes with anything from personal training to a chiropractic session, that is targeted, individualized, technology-enabled and specifically shows your improvement each time that you’re in there.
Veanne: So if I were to visit a Body Armor location, and I had an ailment, can I get reimbursed medically through insurance for some of those procedures? I’m just curious.
Ben: No. Not at this time. [inaudible crosstalk][12:06] We decided specifically not to do that, and the reason being is just dealing with the overall insurance challenges that there are, whether it’s therapy or whatever it might be. What we do really kind of sits in-between what would — and we call it performance health. It is keeping your body in shape or keeping your body in alignment and functioning at the highest level that you possibly can for whatever your outcome is that you want. If you want to walk 1,000 stairs in a day every day to stay in shape, what has to happen to make sure that you can do that, so you’re not sitting on the sidelines for two weeks because you now have an Achilles issue, or the most high-level athlete on the planet, making sure that they can continue to go through the rigors of a tough season.
Veanne: Excellent. I love the wellness play versus the after-you’re-sick play, and now it’s a visit — you know, I like that whole play. It’s really good. Alright, very good — is there anything else you want to share about Body Armor? Anything I haven’t touched on?
Ben: No, I think that, you know, that you’ve pretty much covered most of what we considered — wanted to talk about with Body Armor for sure.
Veanne: Well, I know you keep very busy, and this is an exciting time for all the growth that you have planned for both Fusionetics and Body Armor, so for our listeners out there that think they might benefit from what Fusionetics has to offer, or learn more about your new Body Armor facilities and that system, what would be the best way for those folks to reach out to you or connect?
Ben: Sure. We’re at fusionetics.com. To be able to reach us through there, you can just hit the “Contact” page. If you’re looking for me specifically, or somebody on our team, that will get routed to us and we’ll be able to get back to you quickly. And then also bodyarmorclinic.com will be the URL for Body Armor, so you can reach us if you’re looking for somebody coming in to actually see what we do live, or you have an ailment and want to have that attended to.
Veanne: Awesome. Thanks so much, Ben. It’s been a pleasure having you here today on Atlanta Business Impact Radio.
Ben: Yep. Thank you.
Angela: You have been listening to Atlanta Business Impact Radio with Veanne Smith, and I am your co-host Angela Greenwell. This program has been brought to you by SOLTECH. For more information about the podcast, including other episodes, you can visit our website at www.soltech.net, or find us on iTunes. Thank you for listening, and we look forward to having you join us again.