What does it all mean? And, what are the differences between these medical approaches? How do they compare to conventional medicine?
We get these questions All. The. Time. As a leading expert on healthcare industry trends, careers, practices, and more, we’re here to give you the explanation and definitions for each. First, let’s define personalized medicine, and then we’ll delve into the most common types.
Personalized Medicine – The Future of Healthcare
Personalized medicine includes functional medicine, integrative medicine, longevity medicine, and lifestyle medicine – it is the large umbrella in which patient-centric and root cause medical approaches are housed. Personalized medicine aims to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare. Instead, these specialties are tailored to the individuality of each patient, recognizing that each patient may have different underlying causes for their health concerns, and therefore they may require unique treatment plans.
It’s important to note that personalized medicine and conventional medicine are not mutually exclusive. There may be many cases where multiple approaches (personalized & conventional) are used in conjunction and should be combined as needed for the best outcomes. However, personalized medicine is more patient-centered healthcare because it considers an individual’s unique characteristics, including their lifestyle, environmental exposures, genetics and other factors, to develop personalized interventions that promote optimal health and longevity.
One of the key differences between personalized medicine and conventional medicine is the emphasis on prevention and addressing the underlying causes of illness. Conventional medicine tends to solely manage symptoms, often focusing on diagnosing and treating diseases based on established protocols. Personalized medicine, including integrative, functional, and longevity medicine take a more individualized approach, considering each patient’s unique circumstances.
Below are a few of the types of personalized medicine that are emerging. Keep in mind that each type of personalized medicine places a heavy emphasis on:
- Whole-person approach to healthcare
- Focusing on identifying root causes to illness and diseases
- Offering individualistic solutions, avoiding a one-size-fits-all system
Functional Medicine – Managing the Root Cause
Functional medicine is evidence-based healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of disease and illness.
Functional medicine considers the unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that influence an individual’s health, and aims to understand the interconnected relationship among these factors. Practitioners of functional medicine work with patients to create personalized treatment plans that truly address the underlying causes of their health concerns.
Functional Medicine practitioners spend more time with patients than in a conventional medicine visit. A first visit with a practitioner can be up to an hour long. Through understanding the detailed histories, conducting comprehensive evaluations, and using advanced testing to identify underlying imbalances and dysfunctions in the body, they typically have a better understanding of the patient’s health status, enabling the development of targeted, individualized treatment plans.
People seeking functional medicine providers may be focused on optimizing health, or addressing a chronic illness such as mold, Lyme, autoimmune condition, or chronic fatigue.
Example of a typical functional medicine visit:
- Patient completes comprehensive history prior to visit
- First visit: Patient evaluation, history review, labs determined, preliminary treatment plan
- Follow up visit: Review completed labs and develop targeted personalized treatment plan
- Follow ups: Aligned with health coach/nutritionist to support treatment plan
Integrative Medicine – Complementary and Holistic Medicines
Integrative medicine applies evidence-based complementary therapies to address the whole person, taking into account their physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. Integrative medicine also seeks to provide individualized, holistic, patient-centered care and draws on the best available evidence from both conventional and complementary therapies.
Integrative medicine emphasizes the partnership between the patient and the healthcare provider, with a focus on shared decision-making and open communication. Like other types of personalized medicine, integrative medicine recognizes that each person is unique, and that health and wellness are influenced by a complex interplay of physical, emotional, social, and environmental factors.
Integrative medicine can also work in synergy with conventional medicine, as can all types of personalized medicine. It also aligns with the principles of functional medicine.
Patients pursuing Integrative Medicine may be seeking a whole person Integrative medicine modalities can be part of a treatment plan addressing chronic health issues, as well as supporting those looking to maintain health and well-being.
Examples of Integrative Medicine Modalities:
- Mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, tai chi
- Chiropractic care
- Nutrition and dietary counseling
- Massage therapy
- Herbal supplements
Longevity Medicine – Medicine for Long Life
Sometimes referred to as regenerative medicine, anti-aging, precision or age management medicine, longevity medicine focuses on optimizing health and well-being with the goal of improving and extending human lifespan, which is the period of time during which an individual remains healthy and functional.
Longevity medicine also considers an individual’s unique characteristics, including their genetics, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and other factors, to develop personalized interventions that promote healthy aging and longevity. It supports patients in regaining and sustaining vitality.
Longevity medicine involves the use of advanced diagnostic testing, such as genetic testing, biomarker assessments, and other specialized tests, to identify an individual’s specific risk factors for age-related diseases and tailor interventions accordingly.
The goal of longevity medicine is not only to extend lifespan, but also to improve the quality of life as individuals age by addressing the underlying causes of age-related health decline and promoting optimal health throughout.
Health optimizers and performance athletes often seek Longevity Medicine.
Examples of Longevity Medicine applications:
- Precision diagnostics and advanced imaging
- Dietary changes, exercise programs, stress management techniques
- Hormone replacement therapies
- Stem cell therapies
Lifestyle Medicine – Prevention is the Cure
Lifestyle medicine is a type of personalized medicine that is more preventive in nature. Some aspects of lifestyle medicine include basic principles of health optimization (healthy diet, exercise, stress management, etc.) which may be applied in general to most patients. However, lifestyle medicine may also be personalized to devise specific diet plans, exercise workouts and health strategies which are designed around the individual’s health status, unique health needs, genetics, fitness level, goals, etc. Lifestyle medicine helps to optimize the patient’s health with a comprehensive plan that is unique to each patient.
We envision that lifestyle medicine could be adopted and integrated into more systems. Lifestyle medicine programs are cost-effective and can be implemented and scaled relatively easily, making it more accessible to all those seeking better health.
As with any type of medicine, it’s crucial to work with qualified healthcare professionals who have obtained education from an accredited institution and provide evidence-based recommendations and personalized care plans.
Each of the various types of personalized medicine approaches are based upon an individual’s unique characteristics, including their genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other factors that optimize outcomes and improve patient care. As technology evolves and our understanding of individual health continues to advance, personalized medicine will play an increasingly important role in the future of healthcare.
At Integrated Connections, we truly believe that the future of healthcare is through integrative, functional, longevity and lifestyle medicine practices and practitioners. And, we’re here to support the employment journey along the way. To find the best jobs or to hire the right candidate, we offer the leading job board in the personalized medicine industry. You can check out a recent listing of opportunities in the field HERE.
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