Many of the tenets underpinning patient-centered care are inherent in an integrative approach to medicine.
An integrative practitioner assesses the entire patient. Rather than looking only for symptoms within a narrow diagnostic criteria or specialty, an integrative care doctor considers the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of each patient.
By considering the patient as a complete being, rather than someone with a list of ailments, the integrative care model is well-positioned to provide holistic, balanced, thoughtful care to live a full life.
Often, integrative practitioners find that by addressing one concern, with a thorough evaluation they will find that seemingly unrelated issues the patient has been experiencing, and also resolve them.
This holistic approach leads to better results for the patient. It also saves the individual and the entire system time, money, resources, and energy that would otherwise be wasted addressing each concern with competing treatments — it is an integrative life.
Patient-centered care focuses on helping patients define success and good health for themselves. However, in the traditional medicine paradigm, patients often go to clinicians only when they have an issue or are already in poor health. From there, it’s a game of catch-up for doctors, trying to find the root cause of the patient’s complaints.
In integrative care, the focus is on proactively creating a healthy life in all areas. Because integrative care physicians consider all aspects that may impact a patient’s health and wellness, they’re better positioned to catch warning signs before they become full-on crises.
Additionally, integrative care practitioners are trained to listen intently and take patients at their word with open acceptance. By acknowledging a patient’s concerns and seeking the root cause of any issues, it is often easier to nip these problems in the bud.
The essential focus of patient-centered care is that each patient is in the driver’s seat.
The underlying belief of integrative care is well-aligned with this ideology. Integrative practitioners believe that no one knows the patient as well as they know themselves. While they may not fully understand why they feel unwell or see the connection between two distinct ailments, they are the only person who can articulate how they are feeling.
When a practitioner brings their knowledge of care and treatment to the table and the patient brings their understanding of their own mind, body and spirit, better care is more certain.
When patient and doctor come together to address concerns, the model of care becomes instantly collaborative, participatory and dynamic, with probability of success.
Integrative care doctors rely on patients to weigh in on treatments, share outcomes, and suggest modifications as needed. The doctor and patient become a team, working together to improve patient health. The patient’s own research can be discussed and is respected, and the practitioner can also learn new perspectives and ideas not considered otherwise.
Just as the patient-centered model dictates, integrative care cannot be prescriptive. It is by its very nature a team effort.
When these pieces of integrative care come together, patient agency is inherently restored. You cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach in integrative care. Instead, the patient and their individual goals are always centered.
With an integrative care approach, we see the promises patient-centered care come to life: a restoration of agency and dignity, and a healthier, happier life for each patient.
Health care practitioners can broaden their practice and their value to their patients with an Integrative Care approach. Contact Dr. Merizalde about his Executive Coaching and Mentoring programs.