We started as a grassroots, volunteer organization.

Open Source Wellness was born out of the knowledge that our healthcare system predictably fails our most vulnerable communities. CoFounders Dr. Elizabeth Markle and Dr. Benjamin Emmert-Aronson convened a group of dedicated, passionate folks to demonstrate another way!

The Inspiration

As psychologists working in clinical healthcare, Liz and Ben were clear that something was wrong with our healthcare system. In medical appointments, doctors and therapists offer what we call "Behavioral Prescriptions."

"You need to exercise more," 
"You should eat better!" 
"Reduce your stress!" 

Unfortunately, they would then say something like "Ok then, good luck with that! See you in 6 months!" 

Liz and Ben realized that for many of our patients, who didn't have access to the boutique wellness industry, a "Behavioral Prescription" is a prescription to nowhere. There's no pharmacy in the world that can help with those prescriptions! It was a recipe for continued struggle, disastrous health inequities, and a failing healthcare system.

They started to imagine what a Behavioral Pharmacy would look like: a welcoming, joyful, community-based way to create health and wellbeing.

In the Begining

Lacking funding, Liz and Ben gathered friends and colleagues to help envision and design this new approach. Every Tuesday night, a group of volunteers gathered at Prevention Institute in Oakland, CA to deliver OSW's very first weekly community health program.

We reached out to all of the local health clinics, inviting them to refer patients to our brand new "Behavioral Pharmacy," and encouraging them to come visit.

We started to see how a spirit of community, camaraderie, and even fun started to be an integral part of health behavior change.

Deepening Clinical Integration

One of our early guests, Dr. Steven Chen, invited OSW to bring our program to Alameda Health System, partnering with a primary care team to deliver Group Medical Visits.

This initial partnership pioneered a revenue model that helped the program become financially sustainable, and paved the way for expansion to other clinics.

Eventually, Dr. Chen would become Chief Medical Officer of the newly formed Recipe4Health, and integrate Open Source Wellness into their Food As Medicine work for all of Alameda County. Accessing Medi-Cal funding via Cal-AIM for this work brought new levels of expansion and sustainability.  

2024 and Beyond

As of 2024, Open Source Wellness is entering an exciting new era. Clinical healthcare and related fields are awakening to the importance of human connection, and seeking innovative solutions to our health care crises.

The rise of Social Prescribing is lending momentum to our work, as healthcare leaders embrace clinic-community integration as a necessary aspect of the care spectrum.  

Our partnerships with YMCAs are pioneering a profoundly scalable approach to health equity,  as YMCAs embrace health coaching and the broader Community As Medicine approach.

And lastly, we're so proud that Dr. Markle's TEDx talk entitled "Community As Medicine" is bringing increased visibility to the organization, and she travels nationally to share this work a variety of healthcare, community, and corporate audiences.
Group raising their hands

OSW in the Media