In a fast growing but complex field, our comprehensive survey discovers what longevity clinicians feel about the space, what interventions they offer and what skills they have.
What is the difference between longevity medicine and preventative medicine? Many traditional clinicians will see no difference between the two, while the new generation of longevity practitioners beg to differ.
Longevity.Technology: Earlier this year, we asked longevity physicians and clinic owners to participate in our longevity clinics survey; we wanted to gain insights from those steering the course of this fast-accelerating field, gather experiences and ideas, and collate important data on the sector with the aim of gaining a better understanding of how the longevity medicine field is shaping up.
In our recent survey, we received responses from 51 longevity clinics from around the world; today we share the raw answers from the survey, so they can form part of discussions at the forthcoming round table events at the Buck Institute and feed into the development of standards for longevity clinics; a deeper analysis and narrative will be shared in early 2024.
It is interesting to note that 31% of clinic respondents neither agree or disagree with the statement: ‘A clinic can only categorize itself as a longevity clinic if it helps its clients manage their biological age’.
While 47% agree or strongly agree with this statement, 21% disagree or strongly disagree with it. So, within the mix of respondents, we see a fundamental difference of opinion as to what a longevity clinic is for.
Of course, clinics and healthcare providers may have different perspectives on what constitutes a longevity clinic – some may focus on preventing age-related diseases, while others may prioritize specific interventions or therapies. And what exactly is a longevity clinic – extending lifespan, increasing healthspan? Biological age and the concept of managing it are still relatively new ideas in the wider world – if managing biological age is one aspect among several that contribute to longevity, some respondents may believe that categorizing a clinic as a longevity clinic should be based on a broader set of criteria. All food for thought for our wider analysis.
Clinical skills and longevity training
In terms of clinical skills, the good news is that 86% of clinics are staffed by senior doctor(s) with more that 10 years’ clinical experience; however, when it comes to longevity training, 29% don’t have qualifications/certificates in longevity medicine at all. This reflects that fact that longevity science is not part of the curriculum at med school, and also demonstrates that some operating within longevity clinics are not trained in longevity concepts.
As the market is mixed and clinics are still forming, there are some fully equipped longevity clinics in the market, while others are not offering (or able to invest in) advanced diagnostics: 39% of clinics don’t perform any type of diagnostic imaging procedures, and 37% don’t perform any type of cardiovascular screening. Interestingly, however, 23% of clinics do offer full body MRI, although this may be outsourced by some in view of the capital equipment cost.
72% of clinics use biomarker panels to identify a client’s biological age, with 70% testing (for some of) the hallmarks of aging. Our earlier research identified that cognitive decline is the biggest concern of our readers, and accordingly, 57% of clinics perform brain health screening procedures. Tests that are relatively easy, but still valuable, are also offered by many: 70% of clinics perform muscle strength tests, and 55% perform microbiome testing.
While a core competency of longevity clinics should be the mitigation of, or early identification of, the diseases of aging (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive and physical decline, &c), many are now offering a new mix of therapies. Our survey found that 71% offer hormone replacement therapy, 46% offer IV nutrient infusions, 46% topical platelet rich plasma therapy, and 58% offer either in-house or outsourced aesthetic services.
A number of longevity clinics have transitioned from being aesthetic clinics, a move that highlights the crossover of the term antiaging: is it all about looking younger, or being younger on an epigenetic or metabolic level?
There is still some way for longevity clinics to go in terms of being able to afford or embrace the latest in technology: 68% don’t have a mobile app to help manage their clients (of for their clients to manage themselves), 68% don’t have their own longevity portal/HER/medical record system and 43% are still using Excel/Word and or paper files.