Sat. May 18th, 2024

Few weeks back I registered for the iThrive Mugdha Pradhan 3 months health program called Alive. The program has different packages ranging from 60K to 2 lakhs depending on the coach you choose. Most of these coaches are freshers who come to learn, enrol in courses or do internships without much prior experience.

While like me most new to functional medicine won’t understand what’s going on here, and would trust the process, once I spoke to a few renowned functional experts in industry, I got to understand why this program is not the right choice for most.

Once I started the program, I was suggested additional tests GI-Mapping and OMX, worth another 60K, and supplements worth 50K from their store and their partners.

These tests are quite complex, involving a trip to the lab to extract plasma from blood samples, followed by shipping them back to the US. These also have to be stored cold and shipped the same day else these get spoiled and you have to re-purchase the kit. . However, my ordeal began when the scheduled reverse pickup of samples failed to materialise.

This is a long post, probably the longest I have written in a while. Maybe sitting in the hospital gives me enough time to do so. I will cover in detail all the issues I faced and this will help you make an informed decision before you register.

Lack of ownership – I received the Gi MAP and OMX kits for the test from Ithrive, paid 60K to Ithrive, and another 6K for shipping to them as they take accountability of delivering and shipping to the US. I got the tests done at a lab, but the pickup of the samples from iThrive’s side did not happen, I kept coordinating entire day with the courier company, and iThrive team, none of them gave a concrete answer and kept moving timelines from 1PM, to 3, to 4, to 5,7, 8, and finally 9 but it finally did not happen. Later I found out from my sources in the courier company that it was not booked via iThrive. I lost the entire day, as I had to stay at home and as the specimens were refrigerated. The bigger issue is these samples have a shelf life and they get damaged if not delivered in the US on time. When I complained to the I-thrive team, they were least helpful, and asked me if it can be scheduled for tom, I asked them why didn’t you push Fedex during the day time as these viles will get spoiled and I will lose 60K+ and time but there was no concrete response. Ultimately after several follow ups their response was this does not come under their jurisdiction, and we can’t do much about it. I was quite surprised by this response, every single penny was paid to iThrive, from kits to courier charges, then isn’t it their accountability to get pickup done on time for the accuracy of the test results.

If I knew beforehand that it’s my responsibility to ship them, I would certainly have managed it better, but indeed I trusted their process only to realise that as soon there was a problem they were first to get away with.

Customer Mockery – I was really upset, about the entire incident that’s where the most interesting thing happened, their Chief, of Customer Experience jumped on the messages, she kept on blaming the Fedex and by that time I asked her if this service is a joke as I am stuck and you are holding me and courier service accountable for shipping these to the US when I have paid money to i-Thrive for this service. A simple timely escalation from I-thrive to the courier company could have helped in the day but they did not do that. I tried my level best to make her understand that If any business takes money, they need to be accountable for the delivery and behind the scenes the customer does not care if their vendor fails, they have to figure out a problem and fix it but they simply kept on putting on Fedex, putting me in a very difficult situation where I was almost certain that money and effort has gone down the drain.

Missed to update on one thing, when I said its a joke, the CCE responded back saying if you think I am cracking jokes then you can keep laughing, our shift timings are over. If someone like this leads customer experience, then things are terribly wrong with the organisation, the DNA towards customer centricity flows top to bottom. This clearly tells a lot about the organisation, their beliefs and value system.

Problems like this are normal in any business, during these times what a customer expects is a simple apology and assurance, from the company, that we are here to help, and in case something goes wrong or lets say in this case if this parcel is not picked up we will figure out a solution and worst case if viles get spoiled we will send new ones to you. Rest assured we take the accountability of our service. People talk about customer centric orgs, it’s way harder to build than to merely speak. The only thing I heard from them again and again was we can ask Fedex to reschedule for you.

I wrote a note to Mugdha, who normally responds to messages but to this one, she did not respond.

Lack of Clinical evidences – I was also recommended their EAA supplement, where I asked for clinical backed research and what was provided to me was a blog post written by their team itself.

Claiming these synthetic made EAA’s are 7 times better than Whey Protein, and 3 gms of these would have more MPS ( Muscle protein synthesis) then 20 gms of whey protein. These kinds of claims are strong, and need deep research, as no one can be sure on the absorption rate of synthetically made molecules unless deep studies are conducted by the manufacturer in independent based trials on both humans and mice. I lost all the trust when the claim was 7 times more effective than Whey. I have read through 100’s of clinical case studies around whey, casein and other proteins and never ever found such a tall claim even from a study funded by a supplement company. Clearly shows how there is desperate intent to sell these supplements to all their members and community. Many times, the body gets deprived of certain nutrients due to poor absorbance in the gut and most of the time that needs to be addressed and not putting every single supplement in more and more quantity.

Till here it was just 3 weeks of experience, where I was about to quit but wanted to know what’s in store if I don’t, so I became a passive observer for the next few weeks.

The Gi and OMX tests arrived and only I had to follow up with them on the reports, they finally set up a 1 hour call with me and and in this they do not take you through the tests analysis but create a sheet, where they map every parameter which is haway and add a supplement against it. I was surprised by their handling of these 60K+ tests, a simple first RCA call when they do sales was 1.5 hours but these two tests were wrapped up in a very short duration, the reports were 50-60 page long though. I got the recommendation from them, with additional 10+ supplements which need to be bought from their website or partners.

I raised my concern over the understanding of the report and went very strongly around it. I had several questions, I had put in a doc and sent it to them, that’s when a call was set with me to explain the reports.

While we were waiting for the supplements to arrive, I got infected by severe tonsillitis and had to be hospitalised. I requested them to pause the program as in no case I can follow the supplementation and guidelines being in the hospital. I asked them once I am better in a few weeks we can resume as I was under heavy antibiotics dosage but they clearly declined to pause the program, iThrive being iThrive.

This was enough for me, and I finally decided to quit the program, as I feel they lack the basic empathy towards their patients.

My analysis of the entire program is data driven but the approach to solve the issue is not something I was happy about based on my knowledge. Health is simple, and they have made it incredibly complex to make good business out of it.

First the program itself is very simplistic, advocating for a very restrictive diet devoid of sugar, oil, processed foods, gluten, dairy, and most nuts, except for walnuts, and many vegetable legumes, and even fruits. We all know that if you eat healthy you will definitely get better, but we miss to follow what needs to be done. Where we all struggle is finding what is causing the root cause, and this is where I was expecting some insights, if you tune in all nobs, something or other will definitely work.
Tracking daily dietary intake on excel sheets is a mundane process, The process is not driven by any technology like Healthify but just updating an excel sheet every single day which is quite a cumbersome process.
If eliminating practically everything from your diet isn’t enough, they conveniently offer a myriad of supplements. I was asked to pop 50 capsules in a day. Also tall claims that every single company in India except them uses bad quality ingredients.
Another thing to note is customers who enrol in such kind of functional medical expensive programs are reasonably knowledgeable and well educated; to coach them and make them follow something, it is important that the consultant, the coach and the company involved maintains high reputation and respect. You trust your functional medicine coach with your body, and mind. I could no longer see a coach or a mentor in my consultant or anyone in the company and as a result I decided to quit.

While this program would have worked for few, this is my personal experience and I want you to take an informed call before you register.

Source: Quora

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