Health is a complex state involving a huge number of different systems within the body. These systems are all deeply interconnected, making it difficult to treat one aspect of health without treating the person as a whole. That’s the goal for devotees of holistic care.
Medicine is typically focused on treating specific symptoms and interventions. Instead of looking at the whole and using the least invasive method possible, traditional methods typically use prescription drugs and invasive procedures to treat symptoms and diseases.
While traditional medicine is a critical tool for keeping people healthy, it’s worth seeing how holistic care can fit in with existing models. Here’s why integrating holistic care can help to improve the healthcare system overall.
Understanding Holistic Care
There are many key differences between traditional medicine and holistic health care. Holistic care puts a much larger emphasis on personalized treatment and the interconnectedness of different aspects of health.
Some examples of holistic medicine treatments include acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, personalized diet planning, meditation and yoga, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, naturopathy, energy healing, and more. Many of these techniques are used to help maintain overall health, in addition to their use in addressing specific problems.
Holistic care and traditional medicine are often treated as entirely separate. However, both can provide optimal benefits when they are used together to promote better health. By using holistic health in tandem with traditional care, patients can often enjoy better outcomes with less invasive methods.
Limitations of Traditional Medicine
Traditional medicine has many advantages over holistic care in some situations. When someone needs antibiotics or another medication that is designed to treat a certain problem, holistic medicine is usually not sufficient. Surgery is also sometimes needed to treat health problems that cannot be resolved using minimally invasive treatments.
With that said, there are limitations to traditional medicine, especially for chronic conditions. Doctors often don’t get to spend much time with patients, making traditional medicine less personalized. There is also less emphasis placed on preventative care and acknowledging the interconnectedness of health.
Integrating Holistic Care with Traditional Medicine
So, what does integrating holistic care with traditional medicine look like? Well, it starts with ensuring that healthcare providers have a solid understanding of the benefits, applications, and limitations of holistic medicine. Without a patient’s entire care team being on board with the methods used to promote their health, it is very difficult to fully realize the benefits of using holistic care alongside traditional medicine.
A focus on patient-centered care, especially when integrating holistic medicine approaches, is key to success. The patient must be an active participant and invested in the plan to integrate care approaches. This means that they must be part of the decision-making process and their goals and values considered when creating a health plan.
In holistic care, emotional and spiritual well-being is part of the whole picture. In addition to using holistic and traditional health approaches, care integration often has patients working with traditional mental health professionals and alternative spiritual healers.
How Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Can Benefit Patients
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to the techniques used in holistic medicine to help patients achieve better health. One benefit of using these methods is enhanced preventative care. People who use holistic care on a regular basis can often maintain their health better and prevent some issues from coming up.
CAM is also frequently used for people who have chronic conditions. Holistic care can often help individual patients manage pain when prescription drugs are not helping or are not considered safe. With concerns about addiction, side effects, and other issues, many patients with chronic pain want to explore other options for managing their condition safely.
Another common use for CAM is in palliative care. End-of-life care in traditional settings can be extremely traumatic for patients and their families, stripping them of their autonomy and dignity. Holistic care can be used to help empower patients and provide them with comfort in hospice settings. Using CAM, patients and their families can have a better end-of-life experience.
Overcoming Challenges to Integrate Holistic Care
Although there are many benefits to integrating holistic care, there are some challenges to overcome when patients or providers are interested in using it. For instance, insurance coverage is limited for some types of therapies, putting care out of reach for many patients. Even when providers prioritize the whole person in the healthcare theories they use and recommend holistic care as a supplement to traditional medicine, these methods can be financially out of reach.
Another challenge is skepticism among both providers and patients. A lack of understanding of the benefits and limitations of holistic care, and the way they can work in tandem, prevents many providers from recommending or even recognizing these methods.
The good news is that technology is making it easier to not only deliver holistic care but also to track outcomes. As more research is done on CAM, we can expect to see more patients and providers embracing these therapies as a way to promote better, more personalized health among patients of all backgrounds.
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.