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January, 2011

The Wellness Revolution Has Arrived: Are You Ready?

By Steven Ross, DC, DAAPM and James Padilla, DC

There is a wave of wellness awareness sweeping across America today as people lay claim to their own health and well-being. Gone are the days when patients humbly went to a doctor and trusted that their physician had all of the answers.

People are sick and tired of being ill. Studies have shown that the average 65-year-old is prescribed more than 32 prescriptions every year. But patients aren't getting better; despite the massive amounts of drugs being ingested, overall health seems not to be improving with traditional medicine alone.

Chiropractic, naturopathic and osteopathic schools are now jumping on board with integrative medicine, as are 46 of the top teaching medical schools. We are now seeing a movement of traditionally trained providers embracing integrative (functional) medical practices. It is acknowledged by many that integrative medicine will become mainstream within the next five years.

Professional health care organizations and the public will be looking for practitioners who are knowledgeable about integrative medicine. Are you prepared for them to call?

Consumer-Driven Market

Health care is truly a consumer-driven market. However, you must know how to drive patients to your practice, educate them to become partners in their own care, and have them take financial responsibility for their care in order to be successful. Those who have made the move to incorporate integrative medicine into their practices have seen tremendous positive impact both on patients and on themselves.

Tools Matter

Those who wish to be on the cutting edge of the future of health care must learn to incorporate evidenced-based integrative medicine into their practices. This requires one simple element: the right tools. The difference between a general practitioner and a specialist comes down to two things: education and tools. Specialists receive more specific education in a particular branch of healing than do general practitioners. And they use tools that give them an edge.

A tool must have five attributes to be appropriate to your practice. It must be inexpensive, safe, effective, have easily reproducible results (achieve similar results every time), and achieve results easy to explain to the patient.

Many doctors already use a significant number of tools in their practice. Specialized blood tests, saliva tests, urine tests, and an in-depth patient history can determine what ails a patient beyond the traditional blood analysis.

With traditional tests, "normal" is based on a bell-shaped curve of answers from patients who thought they were feeling well. But "normal" is not always optimal.

In integrative medicine, treatment protocols are designed based on a patient's disparity from "optimal" health, not just based in falling within what is considered so-called "normal." Through the use of specialized testing, you can develop individualized treatment protocols based on each patient's deviation from optimal health.

Intake Questions

Communication is vital, from the intake forms to test outcome analysis and patient follow-up. With highly developed communication skills, you can become a successful medical detective, discovering each patient's unique situation that is preventing them from realizing optimal health.

With input from multiple angles, patient questionnaires, blood, saliva and urine tests, you can investigate the underlying problem that in many cases has gone undetected by traditional practitioners and methods. With that information, you can learn to successfully implement a treatment plan that addresses the underlying condition on a patient-specific basis and from a functional standpoint.

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