We already have socialized medicine in the US, we just don’t want to acknowledge it. Since we don’t want to acknowledge that we have socialized medicine we have the worst and most expensive form of it. People without insurance go to the emergency room for everything and it is expensive. People without insurance wait until they get very sick, or until their cancer has really grown, or their Covid-19 has spread to the lungs before they go in and see a physician. Waiting is expensive. So, the very first thing I would do is acknowledge the system we have and find ways to make it run better.
As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Nathan Jones from Xlear.
Nathan was born in Kansas City and he spent his formative years in Idaho, in a small town where his father was the town doctor. Later, in a pursuit to provide needed support for the entire family of 14 kids, Nathan’s parents have made the decision to move to Michigan, Mexico City, where he spent most of his childhood. When he was 16 years old, the family made another move, this time to Utah which is also where Nathan graduated from high school. He attended college for a year, spent a year in active duty, and also went on a two-year mission with his church. He moved back home in 1994 and started attending Utah Valley University. Later, he made a transition to Seattle where he attended school to become a commercial diver — he used skills form this education when he worked as a diver in oilfields in Louisiana between 1995 and 2000. Another transition occurred when he moved back to Utah and founded Xlear in 2000 where he has been ever since.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I came to this career path because my father is the physician that invented our nasal spray, Xlear. Prior to starting this company, I worked doing underwater construction out in the gulf of Mexico, oil rigs and such, as well as underwater welding. However, most of my experience was in construction.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I have had a lot of very interesting stories, the ones that I remember most are the ones where we were rejected by the FDA and by physicians because the products we sell are not drugs, but rather are natural solutions. In the end, with most physicians we actually get a chance to discuss the science behind the products and once the physicians better understand they are on board with what we are trying to do. The FDA, however, still rejects the science behind our product for the simple reason that here in the US we do not have a category for foods that act as drugs.
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?
I do not know that I made many “funny” mistakes. However, I have made a lot of mistakes, expensive mistakes, as I made the transition from Diver to nasal spray and healthcare products sales.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think that one of my philosophies that guides Xlear is that we want to be able to show our customers how using our products will actually save them money. If by using our nasal spray that costs roughly 6 dollar a month to use saves you from getting sick one time during the year, then you are already ahead. If using the Spry oral care products saves you from getting a cavity in 4 years, then you are money ahead. The results that we commonly see are even better. So yes, we can show you how using our products will save you money. Part of the way we do that is by keeping the price down. Being healthy and being able to breathe should not be expensive and should be accessible to all.
What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?
Think outside the box, think prevention, think hygiene.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?
This is not shocking to me at all. Our healthcare system is based on making money when people are sick. This is a horrible model. I think that a large part of this is the way physicians have passed the buck to pharma companies for innovation. The supposed “gold standard” for a drug to be used is such a high barrier that only big drug companies can do those studies. This means that every innovative drug or product has to cost a lot of money. Doctors think that is great, but they aren’t the ones paying for those studies. I think that physicians should be out there actually being scientists. They think they are scientists, but they are not. Scientists by definition use the scientific method to solve their problems. Define a problem, outline possible solutions that as their motto states first do no harm, then test those solutions and see if they work. Physicians do not do this, and the hospitals they work for make it extremely hard for them to innovate. Hospitals have protocols — follow the protocol or get in trouble. If that is the case then why do physicians go to school, and why are they paid so much? Anybody can be told what to do. I want my physician to be one of the very few that are willing to fight the system and find cheaper, more effective solutions.
Another reason that our healthcare system is horrible is the movement for everybody to think that their body is good the way it is. We are an obese nation. The AMA should be out there doing everything they can to change that, but they are not. We have some of the most innovative minds in the world and we need to find a way to motivate people to exercise a little more and eat just a little better. I have thought about this a lot and while I have a few ideas I am not in a position to implement these changes. But I do think that if you could get insurance companies, employers, and the government to work together on this problem there are some things that could be done, and they would save everybody money and improve health for our nation. We shouldn’t be “body shaming” people, that is straight up bullying and shouldn’t be done. We should be smart enough to find positive ways to motivate people to be healthier.
You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.
1. We already have socialized medicine in the US, we just don’t want to acknowledge it. Since we don’t want to acknowledge that we have socialized medicine we have the worst and most expensive form of it. People without insurance go to the emergency room for everything and it is expensive. People without insurance wait until they get very sick, or until their cancer has really grown, or their Covid-19 has spread to the lungs before they go in and see a physician. Waiting is expensive. So, the very first thing I would do is acknowledge the system we have and find ways to make it run better.
2. Get rid of hospital “protocols” that dictate how people are treated. A patient and their physician should dictate how the patient is treated.
3. Take medications off of insurance programs. Drugs are not that expensive to make. The fact that they are expensive is simply because insurance is there to pay for them. If insurance did not pay for them the price of most drugs would come down. There are orphan drugs out there that insurance would need to help pay for.
4. Stop drug companies from being able to advertise their drugs to the consumer. Physicians are tired of people that come in with a disease they think they have after seeing an advertisement for it. They don’t need it, but they think they do.
5. Stop the rotating door between big pharma and the FDA. The idea Reagan had was a good idea…on paper it looked good. You want people in the FDA that understand the pharma business, so you recruit people from that field. Again, the idea is sound, but implementing it caused a lot of things to get passed by the FDA that should not have. Many people working at the FDA now work at the pharma companies whose drugs they had helped get through the FDA. So the incentive for the FDA employees is to do what they can to help drugs get through even if they are not safe, even if there isn’t enough science, but to help it get through so they can go get a job that pays a lot more. Stop the revolving door. If someone works at the FDA then they cannot work at a pharma company or consult with or take money in any way from a pharma company for 4–5 years after they leave the FDA.
Ok, its very nice to suggest changes, but what concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?
A. individuals need to start taking control of their own health. Buy better food, and exercise just a little more.
B. Corporations should be looking at ways to motivate their employees. At Xlear we have a few events each year that go on for a month where people do Ironman triathlons. Depending on how many people finish we donate money to the food bank. We also have prizes for the people that finish. We have softball teams and other activities where we try to get employees involved. Also make the deductible on the insurance plan a very high deductible…this motivates the employees to not get sick, and it saves the company money. We also contribute to the HSP of the employees so they can pay the deductible…and if they don’t get sick, they keep the money and invest it for retirement.
C. Make sure that we have community activities that help people to get out and stay healthy. Most communities do have these programs as they are great for people of all ages.
I’m interested in the interplay between the general healthcare system and the mental health system. Right now, we have two parallel tracks, mental/behavioral health and general health. What are your thoughts about this status quo? What would you suggest to improve this?
I am not educated in this aspect of healthcare so I would not know how to comment other than I do believe that the body should be treated as a whole not each little piece by itself. The trend of our healthcare system to do this over the past 50 years is what has led us to be the worst healthcare system in the developed world.
How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?
One who puts the health of their patient first. One who takes the time to educate their patients, follow up with them and make sure they are exercising, sticking to their diet, one that communicates with the patients other healthcare providers, including dentists, physicians, counselors, etc. Also, one who is not afraid to innovate and find cheaper solutions, drug free solutions, as long as the patient is not harmed.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Do what is right. This is a principle that guides my work and how I’ve built our company.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are working on some great things. The most exciting thing is the research being done with our nasal spray and Sars-Cov-2. Turns out that our nasal spray destroys the virus. We have known this since March. The FDA has turned us down every time we approach them as this is not a drug. But human clinical trials that are being done in Florida are showing results that are almost unbelievable. To be included in the study they have to have symptoms. They have to be sick and have a PCR test showing that it is Sars-Cov2. Every patient that is using Xlear is symptom free within 3 days and is testing negative with the nasal swab PCR within 7 days. You mentioned Newsweek — in the near future there will be an article in Newsweek about this. Even with results like this, our FDA will not let us get out and talk about what our nasal spray can do. People are getting sick, some of them are dying, and our country is getting screwed up more than ever. Simple nasal spray solutions could fix this. We are not the only group working on nasal sprays. Universities are, the Australian government is working on one. Journal of the American Medical Assoc. published an article that pointed out that if we can destroy the virus in the nose, we will stop the spread and lessen the severity of the symptoms. So, tell me why our elected officials are not talking about nasal sprays.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
I like history, ancient history. I have been to Egypt many times, Turkey, South America, India, etc. I love to read about the relationship that ancient man had with their God. However, and whomever that was. I watch Dr. Bean medical videos on YouTube. I like them because it keeps me learning as well.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Stopping drug abuse in this country. Prescription and OTC drugs. We are killing ourselves trying to not be sick.
How can our readers follow you online?
I do not really have much of an online presence but chiapet jones on facebook, @nathanj05747053 on twitter or follow our brand @Xlear and @SprySmile on Instagram