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Systems-based Health Coaching

Will Change Healthcare Forever.

a vision to combat the crisis of chronic disease

By Andrew Kornfeld, BA, BS

Video and Post Published January 22nd, 2024

Enroll Now in Systema IBD ⤵


In my last post I wrote about the differences between IBD and IBS and how the philosophy we put forward with IBDCoach that helped to transform hundreds of IBDers (both directly and indirectly) could be applied to IBS as well.  As I’ve worked with these individuals across the spectrum of chronic disease, I can confirm that new and enhanced versions of the IBDCoach model can indeed be applied to IBS and a myriad of other chronic health conditions. This video above and post below outlines my vision for the healthcare system and the type of approach I currently take with my clients: Systems-based Health Coaching (SHC).

Let’s dive in 👇

The Crisis of Chronic Disease

is one of the most significant crises facing humanity

Directly quoting the American Action Forum puts a spotlight on the crisis of chronic disease:

“Approximately 47 percent of the U.S. population, 150 million Americans, suffered from at least one chronic disease [defined by persisting for at least a year and requiring ongoing medical attention or limiting daily activities]. These ailments account for 70 percent of all deaths in America, killing more than 1.7 million people each year.”

Systems Thinking and Neuroscience

applied to the health crisis

In his soon to be published book, Systems Science my colleague David Shugar describes the central idea of systems:

“The central view of systems science – to think in terms of complex connections – offers the necessary perspective to reconcile modern scientific findings and address problems facing the 21st century world… Systems theory… acknowledges emergent collective behaviors, chaotic patterns, and interwoven relationships between nature and society”


Systems thinking is also the well known fundamental paradigm that the whole is greater or entirely different than the sum of its parts. There are delicate physical and non-physical relationships where components are interdependent, with each element a system in itself. These relationships are often invisible, and so can be unintentionally disrupted and harm the integrity of the system (i.e. the emergence of chronic disease). Below are some physical and non-physical relationships pertinent to a human being’s health in the 21st century:

Any approach to address the rise of chronic disease (and indeed fix healthcare) must acknowledge these relationships. I believe the best way to is to take a comprehensive, multidimensional approach and to start with the most fundamental component. That component happens to be the human being at the center of everything or as we refer to in healthcare “the patient.”  


And the best way to change a human being is to change the brain. As someone who studied the fundamentals of neuroscience, I know the brain can profoundly change when exposed to new more adaptive environments. This process is called Neuroplasticity. 

I’m not going to go into depth on the biology of neuroplasticity in this post however on a basic level the process involves neurons (brain cells) strengthening, weakening, forming or deleting synapses (connections) between themselves. Two common processes are called Long Term Potentiation (LTP – strengthening) and Long Term Depression (LTD – weakening) which is thought to the basis of how we as humans learn.  Large groups of these neurons (or brain maps) can change their connections together resulting in learning and behavior change. 

It is understood that the formation new brain maps happens when humans are placed in enriched environments. This has been known for decades, first demonstrated in the 1970s by the psychologists Rosenzweig and Bennett in rats. 

Systems-based Health Coaching

as one critical solution to address health and healthcare

Systems-based Health Coaching (SHC) takes our understandings from systems thinking and neuroscience and applies it to the patient by taking a multidimensional approach to treatment and by enhancing a patient’s environment, learning, and mindset.  This creates adaptive brain changes and produces states of empowerment and action in the patient. 

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Systems-based Health Coaching (SHC) looks at the patient and his/her/their environment as inseparable, interconnected systems. 


Below I highlight 9 specific attributes of SHC to give you concrete examples of a Systems-based Health Coaching program looks like. You will learn:

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To adapt a completely new mindset around your health though understanding how your behavior change and subsequent actions have profound effects on your ability to heal and thrive in your everyday life. 



How to re-engineer your environment and relationships with other humans. This may involve simply going on an overdue vacation or even applying for FMLA from work, modifying course loads if in school, changing housing, moving to a different climate or location, and setting new boundaries in (or ending) toxic relationships. 



To understand the biological nature, facts, and the latest research on your specific health condition and to learn how to read and analyze scholarly articles using databases like Pubmed.



To design your own comprehensive health protocol using a revolutionary and proprietary tool called the Remission Master Plan (RMP), which will help you determine which interventions are working and which ones are not. Critically, this tool also allows for unparalleled communication and collaboration between you and your health team. 



To utilize advanced diet and nutritional strategies in designing your own dietary protocols using a specific and proprietary tool called the Adaptive Dietary Framework (ADF) which moves through foundational, stability, and exploratory domains based on disease activity, feasibility, and sustainability.



How to navigate complex healthcare systems and insurance systems; to assemble and seamlessly work with a customized and coordinated health team of condition-specific specialists (i.e. gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists etc.); primary care physicians; naturopathic, integrative, functional practitioners; psychologists; nutritionists and dietitians; and health coaches.



To understand, all your frontline and mainstream medications, therapeutics, procedures, and interventions specific to your condition; the risks and benefits of each; and how each one fits into your larger protocol in collaboration with your health teams.



How to carefully utilize natural interventions like science-based supplements, herbs, and nutraceuticals specific to your condition in collaboration with your health teams. 



How to implement specific exercises (including but not limited to cardio, strength training, yoga, outdoor sports) and other specific lifestyle protocols including spending more time in nature

The Vision for SHC

It's an obvious next step

The health systems in the US and around the world have major problems – and while many of these problems require continued advocacy and changes in legislation – a lot can be done right now.


We must empower patients. 


Systems-based Health Coaching accomplishes this and helps to mitigate the enormous strain on health professionals by creating active participation by patients. It’s also obvious that SHC will be a significant force in reducing extreme expenditures. Again quoting the American Action Forum on the US healthcare system:

“…the total cost of chronic disease in the United States reaches $3.7 trillion each year, approximately 19.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product [the highest in the world]. An estimated 84 percent of healthcare costs are attributed to the treatment of chronic disease. [5x higher than that of a healthy person]

I’m working diligently on the foundations of a new broad sweeping  and powerful organization that will apply Systems Based Health Coaching to a number of lifestyle-based chronic health conditions that account for significant strains on the health care system. I plan to launch this organization later this year. Until then I’m applying SBHC to my one-on-one work with clients and the results have been profound. 

If you made it this far through my post, I am grateful for your time. I am also grateful for the hundreds of clients I have worked with since 2019 with IBD and now with IBS, ADHD and other chronic health conditions. This post is the start of what I believe can be a revolution in health and healthcare uniting us together as diverse patients and healthcare providers with respectively unique needs and specialized talents. I also believe that SHC can help to define the emerging field of health coaching – helping the field to be 1) more based in science, 2) more impactful on the healthcare system as a whole and 3) to powerfully support patients in becoming whole new human beings equipped to prevent, heal from, and thrive in the face of chronic illness. 

If you’re struggling with your health I’d very much encourage you to schedule an exploratory call with me and we can chat about how SHC can change your life. Also, due to numerous requests I will be taking on a few clients (health coaches or other health professionals) who would like additional training in SHC and to learn more from me (if this is you please also schedule an exploratory call with me). 

Let's talk about if SHC can help you

apply for a free one-on-one exploration call with me