The concept of integrative medicine
Integrative medicine is an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Employing a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances, it uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimum health.
Through personalizing care, integrative medicine goes beyond the treatment of symptoms to address all the causes of an illness and helps the patient to restore and maintain a healthful balance.
Principles of Integral Patient Care
- The patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
- All factors that influence health, wellness and disease are taken into consideration, including body, mind, spirit and community.
- Practitioners use all healing sciences at their disposal to facilitate the body’s innate healing response.
- Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are used whenever possible.
- Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry driven and open to new paradigms.
- Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
- The care is personalized to best address the individual’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances. Practitioners of integrative medicine ideally exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.
Patient care is based upon all systems of medicine working in a complementary relationship with one another, while keeping the patient at the center. In addition to everyday clinical practice, certain activities can be in place to support the process of integration. Such as:
- Health Navigation: A trained Navigator serves the purpose of helping guide the patient and the practitioners in the process of creating integrative treatment plans.
The Navigator facilitates this process by possessing a familiarity with traditional and complementary medical systems as well as the patient’s unique situation. They then guide the patient and practitioners by designing and keeping to an evolving treatment plan.
- Patient Care Conferences: Weekly meetings with the practitioner team as well as the Navigator to discuss any day-to-day clinical issues. In these meetings, any of the practitioners may present a case and get the team’s input. Or specific clinical themes may be chosen for discussion such as, a multimodality dialogue on the treatment of various chronic conditions or other pertinent clinical issues.
- Shared medical records: Part of the practice of Integrative medicine is for each patient to have one medical chart that is shared for his or her entire care. This allows for the medical treatment to be seen by each provider in relationship to the whole picture. This chart then also serves as part of the process in educating all providers about their colleague’s systems of medicine.
- Patient Education: Informing and involving the patient in his or her own treatment and wellbeing at every step of the way.