Integration of the whole person. Integration of multiple disciplines. Integration of different foundational principles. Integration of nature, etc. It seems logical to approach health care from this perspective but here in America, this is not the case. All of these aspects are part of what one would call Integrative medicine and while some integrative medicines are beginning to emerge locally, it is more unique. The westernized traditional medicine we see here is based upon a model of single system failure. Various specialties or disciplines view their patient's complaints via their chosen organ or model of study. So if a 55 year old overweight male goes to the orthopedist with a Left shoulder pain, he will most definately have some deconditioned shoulder muscles and so is likely to be diagnosed with a Left shoulder orthopedic problem. That same person may present to their cardiologist the next day to get his blood work about high cholesterol but by the doctor not routinely addressing lifestyle changes and only looking at the blood work from last week , the doctor fails to learn the patient has stopped attending the gym due to regular indigestion and left shoulder pain. Day four the patient attends physical therapy as referred by his orthopedist for his shoulder and tells the therapist how stressed he has been due to a job lay off and is concerned he may not be able to attend sessions due to cost. The physical therapist notes that his shoulder is stronger than she would expect for the diagnosis but since the doctor has sent a specific protocol with this diagnosis instead of an order to genuinely evaluate and treat, she treats the shoulder as ordered and refers the client to the billing office to assess financial needs. Day 5, The patient is rushed to the ER and is diagnosed with a massive heart attack. How could three medical professionals not notice the signs????
The answer is a classic lack of integrating all the pieces. Each of these people knows the heart refers pain to the left shoulder. They know that stress, poor diet, obesity and high cholesterol can lead to cardiac disease but the connections are not readily seen in a system where evaluation looks endlessly for the missing tree instead of the state of the forest. The pieces only add up to the whole when the whole is seen as the summation of it's pieces. Integrative medicine professionals like myself aim to take their evaluations as a possible piece of the puzzle. Objectives are flexible and subject to the patient's report or subjective. We continuously seek to find co team members that may be able to facillitate our procedures for better overall outcomes without compromising the effects of our own approach. I as an integrative physical therapist may address chronic pain by referring out to a psychologist who specializes in chronic pain so that my client may work with me from that approach. An integrative physician may utililize Acupuncture or refer a stressed out back pain patient to yoga instead of traditional PT. The concept makes sense in an industry that is obviously broken. It takes a villiage to raise a child. Why manage healthcare from the point of ego????