Functional Medicine & Functional Pharmacy State of the Industry Report 2024

Jan 15, 2024

Insights, Musings, Predictions, Sometimes Unwelcomed Truths & Possibilities to Light You Up in ‘24

by The Godfather of Functional Pharmacy, Robert Kress


Happy New Year, as I sit at my desk here in Newburgh Indiana.

Each year I like to write my “state of the industry” report on New Years Day, providing pharmacists and health care practitioners like you, insights on how to navigate the year(s) ahead, from roadblocks to opportunities.

And understand, I self admittedly go by different metrics than most of the industry.

I have always lived by the standard that “if the crowd is running one way, then run the other”, so, you can imagine with the growing popularity of Functional Medicine, my antenna’s get lit up a bit.

As you know, my interest and my focus are on complementary medicine; lifestyle, functional and mind-body. Our biology is truly our biography.

So what I will to share with you is a culmination of past history, trending issues, hot topics, opportunities as well as roadblocks to avoid, all from a seasoned, sometimes salty, veteran of complementary medicine, and at times referred to as The Godfather of Functional Pharmacy.

Without further ado, your 2024 Year Ahead

Dilution and McFunctional Medicine is a theme for 2024.

Where many people hope for functional medicine going “mainstream” the result is proving to be a dilution.

The early days growth of functional medicine was truly bringing together the best of age-old wisdom and modern-day discoveries, and now a days there seems to be more attention on molding systems together- which seems to be like we are saying the same thing- its not. Think dilution.

…And patients are already sniffing this out.

We are that practice that many patients come to after seeing scores of other practitioners- often financially and energetically spent, feeling no better than when they began.

  • More and more are sharing with us that their functional medicine experiences seemed only like a glorified regular medicine visit, except they are taking way more supplements than they ever took medications.

  • I am hearing reports as well from students in Beyond The Labs- how they are getting dissatisfied patients from the big name and glossed up functional medicine practices in their town.

As you move forward on your journey, I implore you to release the need for “insta protocols”- and embrace the individual that is in front of you, and the journey that they are on, where they have been- and marry that with lab testing, disease states and symptomatic management suited for each and every one- as an individual.

Do not allow YOUR practice to join the scores of other McFunctional Medicine practices- THIS IS THE YEAR TO SET YOURSELF APART AS THE FUNCTIONAL AND MEDICINE PRACTITIONER YOU DESIRE TO BE!

Maybe even search out some ‘outliers’, some who seem to be on the fringe of functional medicine, might I even say alternative- I feel this is healthy when you approach with critical thinking and a sense of curiosity. Ultimately it could foster in some ‘outside’ the pillbox thinking which you might not have found through traditional functional medicine.

2024 is the Year of the Clinician – Coach

Have you seen the word Clinician-coach? I am predicting it will become “official” in 2024, much like mind and body became mind-body, which then became mindbody- as one in the same, encompassing all.

Well, 2024 will be the transformative year where practitioners get to hone their clinician skills while building their coaching skills for the perfect storm of care for the patient, the clinician-coach paradigm.

I fully expect this to become a word that rolls of the tip of your tongue beyond 2024- are you ready for the new medicine era of the ClinicianCoach? That is what we are creating, that is what we are developing practitioners like you into.

Leadership and Community is the medicine for 2024

As many in my Beyond the Labs – Beyond Functional and Lifestyle training are learning, the role of a transformative health care provider, regardless of you discipline (naturopath, functional, surgeon, doctor, pharmacist, nurse, etc, etc) will be requiring and calling for you to be a leader, and a leader of community- AND, here is the kicker- leader of self.

Group medical models have been a successful approach to functional medicine care, and I predict 2024 will be the year of expansion. These not only provide excellent education and knowledge to many, but they also provide support, community, connection and many other aspects to healing.

When I wrote Whole Pharmacy, Reversing the Trends in an Overmedicated Society back in 2013, I was putting the spotlight on a broken system.

11 Years later, there is no question that the health care system is broken, not just from a financial point of view, but healing in general, along with a heaping serving of distrust which has only sped up since March 2020.

Four years ago, COVID happened, and the reality of the negative health impact that isolation can have was front and center. We don’t need COVID or another pandemic to realize that isolation is a common theme to many people, even in everyday, non-pandemic life.

And this is precisely why I am so excited for The Healers Journey + Entrepreneurship in a Brave New World Coaching + Mentoring I am about ready to release.

It is within this training and transformation that you grow yourself, you grow your practice, provide leadership to your own community within a likeminded community of forward thinking pharmacists like yourself.

Guru Toppling and the Rise of Authenticity is on the menu for 2024

2024 will also be the year that begins the drive for the anti-guru effect. Along with the Dilution + McFunctional Medicine + Leadership affects- people will be searching for individuation, with the support of the tribe.

…and authenticity not ego.

Whether it is you as the practitioner or your patients, the path of growth and healing will be one of individuation- accessing the help of guides, although carving a path out unique to the individual.

In my Beyond the Labs I teach this regularly, I am not teaching one system, program or method, I don’t want you to do as I do or I have done, or anyone for that matter- Although I encourage you to step on a path of belief, purpose, support with a bit of risk, and what you enjoy, and allow that to unfold organically.

In the The Healers Journey + Entrepreneurship in a Brave New World Coaching + Mentoring I will be providing you a look over my shoulders approach as I build a new program in a new market- this is used as guidance, not a cut and paste templates.

Cut and paste along with AI is not the path my friends…the path is you, your story and how you relate that to your clients and patients.

I think a perfect example is this quote about writing a book, “A book should be an axe for the frozen sea within us, it should wake us up and hammer at our skull”.

This is your journey, I invite you to step into it

Now, imagine if you have that same book ghost written, or AI to do it- it’s not your story, it’s someone else’s, and authenticity will continue to falter.

Old Ways are Done Ways- In 2024 Be a George

As you step forward on your path, I invite you to let go of your old ways of doing things. Have you ever watched Seinfeld? There was an episode where George Costanza decided to do everything differently than he had – and shazaaam! Life opened to him with positivity and opportunity.

Give yourself some time, sit down, and excavate what has been working, what has not been working, and let go of the old while stepping into the new.

We all know the definition of insanity- doing things (and ways) over and over expecting different results.

In pharmacy one of the ‘old ways’ is waiting for the industry to throw us a bone. Like vaccinations, and Paxlovid. The appearance we are stepping into prescribing, its all yet pacification, while ultimately taking from our bottom line and feeding pharma.

PBM’s won’t be fixed. Margins will continue to get thinner. There will always be a next Ozempic but will quickly prove to not be sustainable. Walkouts won’t work. Ultimately this is where technology and AI will shine.

This is the year of being a George will put you on the path to professional sovereignty.

2024 The Year That We Build Back Trust and Lead with Questioned, Tested, Good Medicine

No more pretending COVID didn’t happen. No more ignoring the fact that the COVID vaccine and Paxlovid are not the bill of goods we were sold. No more NOT LISTENING TO WHAT PATIENTS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR SO LONG.

This is the year we work as practitioners WITH our patients, and not following blind rules handed down from above. Your patients deserve this, YOU deserve this.

Start asking more questions of not just the ‘powers that be’ but your patients and yourself as well. Blind trust is yester-year, we are all an empowered, self and group guided force.

Once again, I highlighted this growing ‘distrust’ in Whole Pharmacy, written way back in 2013- and if you have not read it yet, you can get a free copy of the ebook at

And Lastly

…2024 is the Year Of Risk = Reward

It’s true, you have to risk to find life…and in 2024 as far as making true change, change to your personal and professional life, you will have to risk.

Whether its time, money, your stature in your tribe, comfort, or all of the above…

There is no paint by the numbers solution for you if you are looking for a way out, or more importantly, a way into the personal and professional life which you desire.

If you have always been a pharmacist, or lived within the pharmacist job paradigm, you have most likely had a reliable decent income, albeit not feeding your souls desire. It has been said that “The Soul lives on meaning the way the body lives on food.”

More times than not, a “job” will not provide this, although crafting your path in the entrepreneurial realm certainly can, and this is what we do together in both Beyond the Labs as well as the soon to be release, The Healers Journey + Entrepreneurship in a Brave New World Coaching + Mentoring- and certainly both.

Onwards to 2024- this will be an exciting year- a challenging year- and an extremely gratifying year for those who step on the path that has been waiting for you.

I hope you enjoyed my State of the Industry Year Ahead Report, I look forward to connecting and working with you in the year ahead and BEYOND.

In Gratitude and Health,