Why Cooperation and Integration is Needed in our Health Care

If the goal of the medical establishment is to help heal the patient/client, health professionals must learn to have respect for one another, and be willing to communicate with other health service providers relating to their patient. This level of respect means that the health professional must find a way to let go of personal biases towards the other health professional's chosen field.

Some chiropractic clinics now offer various alternative therapies with naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, and massage therapists, which is one step towards health care integration. The next step is for each therapist to collaborate with each other in the best interest of the client. The head of these clinics must encourage a team effort rather than endorse a single therapist model where the practitioner is trying to look after a patient on their own. Setting up weekly meetings to discuss patients' that are not responding properly to their therapy is one way to encourage collaboration.

The next step is to get traditional or allopathic medicine to view holistic practices as useful and beneficial in overall health care, and agree to collaborate in the best interest of the patient.

Our health care has become so specialized, that any one health care provider cannot be expected to know or see every possible outcome based on a series of symptoms or test results. General practice physicians (GP's) have been trained to determine a course of action by assessing a patient's main complaint in a short amount of time - usually ten or fifteen minutes. The course of action is often prescription drug therapy ranging anywhere from antibiotic treatment to antidepressants.

In cases where a physician feels the symptoms warrant a more detailed analysis, a recommendation to a doctor who specializes in a certain area, such as endocrinology or dermatology is usually given. In some cases, a GP might suggest physiotherapy or another acceptable and traditional practice. Rarely would any kind of a naturopathic therapy even come to the mind of a traditional doctor, despite the increasing mounds of evidence pointing to the validity of naturopathic/ holistic therapies.

Some doctors are quick to discredit a patient's interest in holistic therapies and may become difficult if the patient reveals they also see a naturopathic doctor. This kind of attitude may actually hinder a patient's healing and create a need for secrecy from the patient's which won't help anyone.

Naturopathic doctors, despite having the same number of years of education that GP's have, are not allowed to order blood tests or have access to patient records. Unless the GP is willing to give copies of test results to a patient, who can then give those results to their naturopath for review, the naturopath is left to determine a course of action based ONLY on symptoms as described by the patient. While holistic models are based on the whole patient - that is their lifestyle habits like exercise and diet, Spiritual beliefs and practices etc. - having access to blood test results, ultrasounds and other radiological test results would provide information that could only be beneficial in helping that patient get back to a healthy state.

There must also be lines of communication between holistic practitioners themselves before communication between holistic and traditional or allopathic can hope to become the norm. There is an accredited institution that provides certification for every type of health related service. Separate certification means that each modality is specialized in their own type of service, receiving only limited information about other health services. Of course there is an overlap of human physiology in all types of health education, but specialized certification is exactly that - specialized. Further expertise of a specific condition may also happen in a particular discipline. For example, a naturopathic doctor may specialize in treating autism or chronic fatigue. Communication and recommendations to other disciplines such as chiropractic doctors referring to massage therapists or vice versa, naturopathic doctors referring to chiropractors and vice versa, etc. must take place before the cooperation between the naturopathic community and traditional or allopathic community could ever take place.

The unwillingness to correspond with each other is partly due to time constraints, but is sometimes due to a lack of respect for the other's profession. Traditional or Western medicine has been opposed to holistic models for so long, integration between the two is slow going. Obtaining a doctorate or certification in a specific type of health care does not ensure the person's ability to step aside from their own ego and refer a patient to another practitioner. Personal experience, curiosity, level of education , openness to other ideas, cultural background and/or beliefs are all parts of a human being and are not always easily separated from a chosen profession.

In some cases, a holistic practitioner may refrain from referring a client to another type of therapy because of a fear that the patient/client will find that different therapy works better for them, which would leave the initial practitioner without that client and the income from that client.

Chiropractic and some physiotherapy appointments are subsidized by our provincial health departments, so their cost remains lower. Massage therapy, nutrition, TCM, acupuncture etc. are considered types of alternative or holistic medicine and are not covered by provincial health care.

There are many people who can't afford to go outside of paid health care, and may not even be aware of these types of treatments or how beneficial they can be. There is often a stigma attached to holistic therapy of any kind and that in itself prevents a lot of people from seeking help from a holistic practitioner.

The internet can be a good source of information about health conditions, but self diagnosing based on an internet article is very dangerous.

If you are not getting the results you think you should be getting from your doctor, naturopath, massage therapist, physiotherapist or any other type of health therapist - get a different opinion. Learn to listen to that inner voice and follow its guidance. Take back ownership of your health!

© 2017 Penny Hodgson All Rights Reserved

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