Integrated medical care. It’s an elegantly simple concept: don’t simply address one aspect of medical care, cover it all, across a range of medical disciplines. It makes sense. Bacteria living in your gut can affect your digestive system – unquestionably a physical issue. But changes in gut bacteria also play a role in depression – a mental issue. Integrative medicine attempts to treat the body and mind as parts of the same system.
Integrated Medical Care Versus Functional Medicine
Integrated care is similar to functional medicine in that it attempts to bring together disparate elements of treatment. However, each functional medicine practitioner looks at the whole system, body and mind. Integrated care can focus on a range of disciplines working as a team. An integrated medical practitioner may be trained as a medical doctor. However, he or she may have additional training in alternative treatments as well. These include acupuncture, holistic medicine, nutrition, and alternative forms of counselling and psychotherapy. Our office credits its success in having a team that offers all of these therapies and more, with doctors who understand the power of an integrative and functional medicine approach.
Your Integrated Medical Team
Your integrated medical practitioner often works with a team of professionals, managing your health more broadly than a conventional medical doctor will. For example, a migraine patient might be checked for brain tumors, aneurysms, strokes, encephalitis, meningitis, or sinusitis (conventional medicine) but also be offered magnesium supplements or a diet which research shows may help reduce migraines (alternative medicine). We also have a Gut Health Centre which is informed about the connections between gut bacteria and migraines, and we do allergy testing that can uncover and even remove the source of some individual’s headaches. Of course, these deal with the physical issue – the migraines. An integrated medical professional may go farther, assigning a counsellor, NLP therapist or hypnotherapist to help with the patient’s mental state, if toxic stress or sleep issues are also contributing factors. I hope this example helps explain why we have a reputation for getting to the source of the issue, not just treating symptoms.
An integrated medical practitioner has received training in a range of disciplines. You can expect to work closely with your practitioner. Don’t expect a once-a-year visit. Your practitioner will also focus on procedures and treatments that are not invasive when at all possible. You and your practitioner will look not only at your physical body but at the environment you live in, and the lifestyle choices you make.
A fundamental difference between integrated medical care and what have come to be known as complementary and alternative treatments is evidence. Integrative medicine includes only treatments backed by evidence that has been well researched. Integrated medical care focuses on both conventional and alternative medical practices rooted in science. If research doesn’t back up a medical practice, it doesn’t go into the arsenal your team may wield to protect your health.
While new alternative treatments may appear, an integrated medical approach will not include them until research backs up their supporters’ claims.
Your integrative medical practitioner is trained in a range of disciplines. He or she can recognize potential conflicts between treatments. For example, some supplements can interfere with conventional drugs, a serious issue when an illness may be life-threatening.
What You Can Expect From Our Hong Kong Integrative Medical Practice
If you pursue integrated medical care, you can expect a range of therapies. Arthritis patients may receive medication to reduce pain. But they may also receive exercise programs to increase mobility, and diets that research shows help reduce inflammation and reduce swelling.
Integrated medical care is not a new concept – we introduced it here in Hong Kong years ago. It has grown more common worldwide in recent years as medical professionals increasingly recognize the value of a multidisciplinary approach. Human beings are complex creatures living in a complex world. Integrative medicine attempts to address this.