This post was written by Poorvi Shah, DO, Integrative Medicine Physician
1. Public Demand.
Now more than ever, patients desire an integrative medicine approach to their condition. They want to find the root cause of their illness. With all of the literature on whole living, nutrition, and integrative therapies, the consumer demand for integrative services is at its highest. This demand has warranted large institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Duke University, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and the University of Calfornia, San Francisco to establish integrative medicine clinics.
2. Patients Lack Direction when Choosing an Integrative Practitioner.
Only 12% of patients who use integrative therapies were referred by a physician. Most patients seek an integrative medicine solution on their own, often led on a goose chase of several therapies, some of which are not evidence based and fail, thus spending hundreds, sometimes thousands of unnecessary dollars. An integrative physician sees the patient, recommends the appropriate evidence based therapy, can save the patient and insurance system money. Patients want direction and the ability to discuss CAM integrative therapies with their physician and receive advice.
3. Integrative Therapies Help with Stress Related Illness.
Studies predict that up to 80% of primary care physician visits are for stress related conditions. Therapies such as mindfulness based stress reduction, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, massage, osteopathy, acupuncture and others can help manage stress, and stress related disorders effectively.
4. Physician Resistance of Integrative Medicine creates a rift in the doctor patient relationship.
In a nationwide study of hospitals that offer integrative therapies, 44% listed ‘physician resistance’ as a top hurdle. Patients are often unwilling to share information about the use of integrative therapies with their physician. If a physician is not aware of all the treatments a patient is undergoing, she cannot provide comprehensive, quality care. The physician feels like she failed and the patient loses trust in their doctor. Being open to ALL of a patient’s needs is the best approach, and is taught to integrative medicine physicians.
5. Treating the Whole Person Just Makes Sense.
In the early days, physicians were leaders in their community, medicine men, and healers. They looked at the body, mind, and spirit of each patient. Using this approach as the root of preventive care, integrative medicine physicians create wellbeing and balance by addressing emotional, physical, and spiritual issues in one’s life. Integrative medicine physicians not only help prevent disease, but offer patients a chance at optimal health.