Integrative medicine works on the philosophy that human beings possess emotional, mental and physical components that are essential in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the cultivation of wellness.
Integrative medicine, also known as holistic or naturopathic medicine, is focused on the whole person rather than just the disease.
Of course, this philosophy is much more broadminded than conventional medicine, which focuses on diagnosing disease and prescribing prescription drugs or surgery.
This shift in approach is a key challenge that Integrative medicine is facing. Over the next decade the conventional model will continue to be challenged.
Why Do ‘Conventional’ Doctors Dislike Integrative Medicine?
One of the first barriers that integrative practitioners may face is the concept that alternative medicine is to be distrusted or isn’t proven.
Fortunately, many patients and the medical world are starting to acknowledge that there is value in a more holistic approach to health. It’s not about using only pharmacological treatment, or only naturopathic therapies. Both approaches must be combined and integrated (hence the name) to optimize care.
Here are three challenges that the holistic medical approach faces in the current market.
Approximately 35 to 50% of individuals do not use complementary health practices such as acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, and natural products simply because they were unaware the were an option.
This is where an opportunity exists for Integrative doctors to educate patients about these options. Thanks to online information supplied by health bloggers, and the increasing numbers of clinical studies, a lot of the information is being shared more freely.
There is a perception in the market that integrative medicine is only for the wealthy, or those people with premium healthcare. While it’s true that some services that integrative doctors offer can be expensive, a great deal of treatments are now covered by health insurance or even in some cases medicare.
The other challenge with the cost of holistic care is that very often people will not budget for it, or plan to spend money outside the realms of conventional medicine. As health consciousness grows, perhaps this trend will change, and people will budget more health and wellness similar to entertainment and leisure.
To date, the volume of studies that have been undertaken for pharmaceutical drugs far outweigh the research for holistic treatments.
According to a study into Integrative Medicine in America:
“A growing body of evidence suggests that integrative medicine can successfully address – and to some extent, alleviate – many troubling aspects of our current healthcare crisis by helping to provide effective, safe, and cost-effective treatments as well as preventing future disease and fostering overall wellness. Moreover, integrative medicine holds special promise for reducing the burden of chronic illness on individuals and their families, and on the healthcare system”.
These kinds of findings from respected clinical studies will help to increase the recognition of Integrative and Holistic Wellness doctors throughout the industry.
In short, the future is bright ahead for Integrative doctors and the patients that they service. As the rest of the world becomes more aware, and begins to value the integrative model, the adoption will only increase.