Thomas S. Bakman
Chair - Board of Regents | Chair - Executive Committee | Member - Governance Committee | Member-Business & Infrastructure
Director of Case Management and Concierge Services
As a licensed Chiropractor since 1988 Dr. Bakman has provided healthcare in multidisciplinary practices since 1993. He believes in putting the best of medicine, physical therapy, athletic training and Chiropractic together for the benefit of the patient. Dr Bakman has spent his career learning from all disciplines the “subtle” signs of their body breaking down. His athletic background and discipline in fitness since the age of 13 lead him to the point of making a career of helping others achieve their health goals. His business experience of starting practices, utilization review and creating a medical provider network for California has aided him to best utilize a health care delivery system in today’s market.
Dr. Bakman was one of the youngest in his class to complete his postgraduate education. He was licensed at the age of 25 as a chiropractor after completing studies in biology at the University California Irvine and graduating from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. Although his undergraduate work was completed within a pre-med curriculum, he viewed himself as a provider of great health care with a formal education as a Chiropractor. He quickly discovered that to make the largest impact on someone’s health he needed to be medically integrated. In 1992 this lead to the creation of one of the first multi-disciplinary groups in California’s central valley. He studied and created critical pathways that combined the best of medicine, physical therapy, athletic training and Chiropractic. It was at this early point in his career that he was attending an international conference of the North American Back Society. A study was presented that stated “only 10% of the time are exam tests positive for the surgical patient”. This was thought provoking and he began to focus and learn what to look for 90% of the time. “The pursuit of the ‘sub-clinical’ findings has always seemed to be the right thing for the patient.”
This approach was successful and in 1993 leads to the creation of a multidisciplinary work injury program that focused returning a more “fit” person back to the work place. He was fortunate to work with larger employers and observed a measurable difference that a team of specialties working together could produce for the injured and save resources.
In 2001 he moved back to southern California to start an orthopedic surgical practice. At this point he had not had not created a practice that was surgically based.
In 2003 he was part of a team that pioneered a program for larger employers that broke the fragmentation of the workers compensation system by creating a private medical provider network that united the worker, employer and doctor via open communication through the Internet. The initial client was Growers Express/Green Giant Fresh. In 2003 they were averaging $10 million in losses for 4,000 employees. By 2007 the losses were reduced to a consistent 2 million with the same amount of payroll and less litigation.
Since 2004 Dr. Bakman has consulted for employers such as Southern California Edison, Loma Linda University, Warner Brothers Studios, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Disneyland resorts performing utilization review.
Throughout his career he has been utilized as an expert in court and was certified as “expert witness” in Superior Court in 1990. He was the utilization review expert in Paola vs. Southern California Edison (Jun 14, 2005case no LBO 356549), an important legal decision following California’s workers compensation reform in 2004.
In the surgical practice he met a physician that had specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation along with intervention pain management and quickly saw the brilliance of a physician who was an athlete and a coach before becoming a physician. This lead to the creation of FORMA. “I feel privileged to work with such a highly skilled team as it creates possibilities, solutions but more importantly gives the patient hope at returning back to their passion while raising their overall health level.”
Dr. Bakman remains on post –graduate faculty of his alma mater and enjoys teaching and giving workshops to running groups.
Future interests for Dr. Bakman lie with continuing to utilize the best from all of the health care disciplines to allow someone’s health to be restored. “Western medicine focuses mainly on treating the sick patient and their pathology. If you look at the research, this approach has not been effective at preventing the chronic diseases that usually lead to our demise. Evidenced Based Functional Medicine is an approach that seeks to restore the body. Its aim is to identify the biochemical individuality and then use as natural approach as possible to return the body’s system back to a better balance. The goal is to fend off the chronic diseases. For the orthopedic injury, there are usually two diagnoses that bring someone to the office. The first is the presenting diagnosis, the symptoms such as pain that might prevent someone from everyday activities in life or keeping them from their passion. Then an equally important diagnosis is a silent or hidden one that the patient is not usually aware of. This is the biomechanical fault or adaptation that allowed the presenting diagnosis to occur. The same is true with the biochemistry.”
Dr. Bakman believes in giving back to the community. He remembers early on some advice from a mentor “Don’t miss the magic of giving while remaining anonymous”. He has been a Rotary member since 1988. With a good friend he started a non-profit in 2008 that fed the homeless in Orange County. It is now known as the “Chili-Van” that the orange county rescue mission now operates.
He and his wife and daughter now enjoy spending time as a family. They also enjoy traveling to England and New Zealand to visit family.