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It’s not always easy to find the right doctor for you. It can be even trickier when going out of network and locating an integrative practitioner that can satisfy your unique, and sometimes complex health needs. The more prepared and informed you are about what to look for in an integrative practitioner, the better your chances for recovery are.

Here are some tips for choosing the right doctor for you:

1. Find an Integrative Doctor, not a Specialist

In conventional medicine, if you have a skin rash, you go to a dermatologist. If you have a stomach issue, you see a gastroenterologist. But it’s a little different when you take an advanced integrative approach. The body is all interrelated; truth is that the skin rash may be due to toxins in the interstitial tissue, or a dental foci, or stress. An integrative practitioner may still specialize in certain conditions, but their approach should not be to isolate stomach problems as purely related to the gastrointestinal system.

Don’t rule out licensed professionals other than MD’s as well. Many Osteopaths, Naturopathic Doctors, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, and Registered Nurses have an excellent understanding of the interrelations of the body on its multiple levels, and often times these practitioners will go through a number of outside training classes to broaden their scope and offer excellent medical care.

Innovative Medicine Advice: Don’t think you have to go to a specialist. Find an integrative practitioner. How? While the internet is a good start, an even better way to find someone is by asking friends, family, and others you trust. You’d be surprised how word-of-mouth works in the integrative medicine field. Many people you would have never guessed would be into a different approach to medicine sometimes have the best recommendations and suggestions.

Also, look for an integrative practitioner that demonstrates an efficient knowledge base of multiple practices, and one that would take a comprehensive and holistic approach to your treatment, looking for root causes rather than simply treating based on diagnosis or symptoms – which leads us to our next and critical tip…

2. Do they Treat Symptoms, or Heal Underlying Causes?

Think of it this way, would you be satisfied to have a plumber come in to look at a water-damaged wall and saying you’re going to need to paint over that on a daily basis? Probably not. But that’s precisely what we see in medicine today with the water-damage signifying a symptom of an underlying problem, most likely a faulty pipe somewhere behind the wall.

Most of us are used to listing our symptoms for doctors, and then a doctor matching a medication to the symptom or grouping the symptoms to achieve a diagnosis and prescribe a generalized treatment protocol based on that. A good integrative physician will care about those symptoms, and listen, but be able to identify the root causes of these symptoms and focus on addressing them. This, in turn, alleviates symptoms in the process.

Innovative Medicine Advice: Ask your potential practitioner if their treatment plan would address underlying dysfunctions, and if they have a specific method of identifying potential root causes that are exhibiting in you as symptoms. There are a number of systems and techniques to identify root cause dysfunctions, one of the most advanced being Bioresonance Analysis of Health. A good plumber locates the leak and fixes it in order to then repair the water damaged wall for good.

Now that we have the tools to find the cause of a problem, we are also able to treat it, effectively removing the cause and making the symptoms go away — permanently! Most treatments include nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle issues.”

Scott Saunders, MD, Santa Barbara Wellness Group

3. A Coach, not a Friend

At Innovative Medicine, we always like to teach doctors that the practitioner / patient relationship is like a coach / athlete relationship. The athlete needs to listen, respect, and comply with the coach in order to get the best results. If the coach becomes friendly and allows the athlete to choose which workouts they’d like to do and which they’d like to skip, that athlete won’t be winning anything soon. The doctor needs to serve as the coach – guiding the patient back to health, but there needs to be an understanding that the patient has a responsibility to do some heavy lifting. And we always tell our doctors they’re going for Olympic gold!

Innovative Medicine Advice: Get a feel for if a doctor is more of a coach, or a friend that just wants to keep you happy. Tell them you’re committed to the healing process and will abide with a complete program of treatment, and have them assure you they will guide you along the way to ensure rapid restoration of health. Bouncing back from complex issues isn’t always easy, but it’s the coach-type mentality that will place you in a much better position to do so.

4. Don’t Ditch the Dispensary

There’s a growing trend for doctors to outsource their dispensary to companies that can deliver supplements and medicines directly to your door and allow you to purchase on your own. But don’t think this is a good thing. Wouldn’t you rather have the medicine at the point of where the doctor prescribes it to you? No waiting, no additional hassle, and you can ask any questions related to dosage or how it works right then and there. Doctors with internal dispensaries often also perform great quality control, knowing their space is valuable and not a warehouse, so they choose medicines and supplements wisely, only carrying the highest quality ones.

Innovative Medicine Advice: Ask potential practitioners if they have a dispensary, and see if it goes beyond simple nutritional supplements. A comprehensive dispensary should include minerals, biological medicines, homeopathic remedies, herbal products, and other advanced natural medications (organotherapy, pleomorphic remedies, spagyric medicine, and more).

5. No Insurance isn’t a Bad Thing

Don’t be scared by this one, but the truth is often the best integrative doctors don’t take insurance. There are many reasons for this. One being the bureaucracy and paperwork that can take up a doctors time and limit their therapeutic options. A study showed that today, physicians spent 27% of their time in their offices seeing patients and 49.2% of their time doing paperwork, much of which are for insurance purposes (source). A doctor should focus on treating and healing the patient with freedom, not filling out paperwork.

Another reason for paying out-of-pock is that many excellent therapies simply aren’t covered by insurance. The fact that a therapy is not covered by your insurance shouldn’t deter you. When you look at the treatment options insurance currently covers and where that’s gotten us, you start to see a bleak picture. We’ve reached epidemic numbers and growth in cases of cancer (Cancer cases are expected to surge 57% worldwide in the next 20 years), diabetes (the number of adults with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes worldwide has more than doubled in past 30 years), and autism (autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010). Perhaps we need to re-evaluate what is being covered by insurance, but that’s a very slow process. In the meantime, value your treatment and be open to finding a great doctor with a good track record who can provide you with dedicated care, take time to listen, albeit they may not take insurance. Remember, health is your greatest treasure. Without it, all the money in the world won’t mean a thing. Investing in health is the greatest investment you can make.

Innovative Medicine Advice: When looking at doctors, don’t rule ones that don’t accept insurance. It’s a new idea, but paying for restoring health not only leads to better care, but an added layer of responsibility and added importance on your road to recovery.

We belong to a growing minority of American patients who not only lack health insurance—we like lacking it, and we like the health care we buy, too. Self-pay patients of the Unconcernedly Uninsured worldview know the truth, and the truth is setting them and their health-care providers free.”

Michael T. Hamilton, The Heartland Institute

Bonus: Equip Yourself with the Right Questions

They say there’s no such thing as a bad question, but in the medical world, there can be better questions. Most patients ask the regular questions, like:

  • What’s my diagnosis?
  • Have you treated [disease X] before?
  • What’s the normal protocol for [disease X]?

While these may seem like fine questions to ask, they don’t address your unique causes and needs, and rely on the doctor to both guess and group. Meaning based on your symptoms and biochemical lab results, a doctor will make an educated guess as to what the diagnosis is, and then provide a generalized treatment protocol for that diagnosis. Misdiagnosis has become increasingly common in the face of complex conditions like Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and a host of degenerative, autoimmune and chronic conditions. Basing treatment off this diagnosis can also lead inappropriate or unnecessary treatment that may harm, not help, the patient.

Innovative Medicine Advice: Ask different questions that show a doctor will not just group you into a generalized disease protocol with a wait-and-see approach, but rather that they truly understand why you are ill and how to restore your health rather than manage it. These questions include:

  • What’s causing my symptoms and lack of health?
  • Do you personalize each treatment to the patient, not the disease?
  • What’s my personalized treatment plan to restore health?

For more explanation on the questions you should ask a doctor, and ones to avoid, please see this article, “The 5 Wrong Medical Questions Patients Ask Doctors“.

If you prioritize your health, you should also prioritize who you want in charge of it. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t. In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and released by Healthgrades, more than 90 percent of Americans reported that although they consider choosing a physician or hospital major life decisions, most of them dedicate more time to car shopping. “It was astounding to see those results,” Dr. Archelle Georgiou, MD says. “We sort of intuitively knew what we’d see, but you have to scratch your head at the paradox: Health care is so important to all of us, but we don’t spend a lot of time researching it.”

As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently once said, “The first wealth is health.” Picking the right doctor for you can help you become abundantly wealthy with health.

See how we can help you restore complete health of body, mind & spirit.

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Meet the Author

IM Health Team

Our Innovative Medicine Health Team is a committed and impassioned group of individuals with focused efforts on exploring and shedding light on this comprehensive realm of healing - sharing insight on some of the most advanced, integrative, but most importantly, innovative topics in medicine - empowering you to be the healthiest version of you. Want to learn more? Here's our story.
52 replies
  1. Megan
    Megan says:

    I love point number 2 in this article. It’s really important to find a doctor who will treat underlying problems and not just symptoms. Choosing a doctor is a huge decision. You want to make sure you choose someone who will help you be your happiest and healthiest self. My tip would be to talk to patients of a doctor before you make your final decision. That way you can get other people’s opinions and get a better feel for whether or not that doctor is the right one for you.

    • IM Health Team
      IM Health Team says:

      Excellent point, Megan. Rather than focus solely on publications or listed accomplishments of any doctor, ask to speak to as many patients as possible. Results are the ultimate goal for any patient, and the more information from other patients who were in similar positions, the better off you will be to make an informed decision in choosing the right doctor for you.

  2. Jeff Madison
    Jeff Madison says:

    I appreciate your tip on looking for a doctor that heals underlying causes not simply treats symptoms. It seems that if a doctor really cares they will take the time to figure out what is really wrong with you instead of just treating your symptoms. My wife and I want to find a new physician so when we look we’ll be sure to choose one that tries to really heal the root of the problem.

  3. Sam Wilkins
    Sam Wilkins says:

    You make a great point about choosing someone who treats symptoms but heals underlying conditions. It makes sense that you would want to have a doctor that will fix the main problem and not just treat the symptoms of the issue. My husband and I need to find a doctor for our family, so I will be sure to look for that when I choose one.

  4. Troy Blackburn
    Troy Blackburn says:

    That’s a good point you make about how a good doctor will be able to listen to your symptoms and then be able to identify the underlying causes. I’ve heard that some doctors will set time aside from their busy days, too, to have longer appointments with new patients to be able to get to know them better and to form a relationship with them. I’ll be sure to keep this great information in mind so that I can choose the perfect doctor for me.

  5. Bernard Clyde
    Bernard Clyde says:

    I like your tip to find a healthcare provider who can act as your coach that you respect in order to get the best help you may need. It’s wise to make use of a few different methods to find that right doctor, both from online search directories and by visiting clinics in person. That way, you will have a good selection to look into to see which doctor ultimately earns your confidence and makes you feel like you will get the medical care you expect and need.

  6. Chris Winters
    Chris Winters says:

    I love the idea to find an integrative physician that has an expertise in several different medical elements. I have been feeling very sick for months and I can’t imagine why. I definitely think that I should begin looking for a doctor that can keep a record of my medical history in order to help to understand my needs and provide me with better treatments as an option.

  7. Afton Jackson
    Afton Jackson says:

    I never knew how important it is to choose a health clinic that treats underlying causes to ensure you get relief from your symptoms as well. My wife has had the flu for a few days. Hopefully, we can use this info to find a health professional that can help her feel better.

  8. Scott Adams
    Scott Adams says:

    I like that you talked about finding someone that also offers their own dispensary. I have been looking for a doctor for the past few weeks, and I haven’t been sure how to choose one. I can see how getting your medicine immediately, would be something that would help me decide.

  9. Thomas Pindall
    Thomas Pindall says:

    I have a friend who might need to get surgery, and is trying to find a reliable doctor that can do the job properly. I appreciate that you explained that a proper doctor will look for the rood cause of the problem, and take care of it for the patient instead of just prescribing medication. Hopefully this information will help my friend find a doctor that he can rely on.

  10. Max
    Max says:

    My wife’s dad has been looking for a good cancer treatment doctor, and we want to help him find the right one. I’m glad that you talked about finding a integrative doctor to do cancer treatment, who would also be able to help him with other things. We’re going to have to see if we can find a good cancer treatment doctor to help him that he could still go to for other issues as well! Thanks for the tip!

  11. Sandra Hexner
    Sandra Hexner says:

    I appreciate you explaining how to choose a doctor. My husband and I just moved and have no idea how to find the best doctor for us and the kids. That is a great point to find a Integrative family doctor instead of a specialist, which makes sense because we want them to be able to know the basics of everything and then refer us to a specialist if anything is caught.

  12. Bradford Snelson
    Bradford Snelson says:

    I really liked the analogy you drew between a plumber and a physician, and how their both more effective if they treat the underlying cause of a problem rather than just the symptoms. I feel like a good way to know whether or not a doctor would be effective at something like that would be to check out some of their reviews by past customers. Looking them up with a professional association would probably be a good idea as well.

  13. Jeremy Thompson
    Jeremy Thompson says:

    Thanks for the informatively helpful article about how to choose the right doctor or medical clinic! I like that you mentioned, under finding an integrative doctor, not a specialist, that the body is all interrelated; truth is that the skin rash may be due to toxins in the interstitial tissue, or dental foci, or stress. It’s also great that you mentioned about not having an insurance isn’t totally a bad thing since paying for restoring health not only leads to better care but an added layer of responsibility and added importance on your road to recovery. I’d be sure to remember these and also take a look at the clinic to see if they are sanitary and kind. If it passed, I’d be sure to take my wife with me next time too. I hope that I’ll find a reputable medical clinic around our area soon.

  14. Anthony Wally
    Anthony Wally says:

    My wife and I recently moved to a new home, and we’re looking ofr a good general health clinic we can visit in the future for medical needs. I liked how you pointed out that we ought to look at the competency of the doctors working there by determining if they treat underlying issues instead of just superficial symptoms. I know I’d certainly want a doctor that is able to use any symptoms I have to determine what my underlying health problem is, and then treat that health problem so the symptoms go away completely.

  15. Sariah
    Sariah says:

    We just moved into a new town, so I’m looking for a family doctor who will meet my family’s health needs. Thanks for the tip on choosing an integrative doctor rather than a specialist as the former may specialize in certain conditions, but their approach is not isolated to a purely, one condition. Thanks for this! I’ll consider your suggestion when choosing the right family doctor.

  16. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    I’ve been thinking about being able to look for some good options for a home doctor for my wife, but I think that knowing what I should look for would be good. I’m glad you mentioned that insurance isn’t a bad thing, but paying out of pocket is also an option. I’m going to have to see what home doctor options we can find and see what we think is our best option!

  17. Deb Pearl
    Deb Pearl says:

    I just moved to a new town and I really need to find a new doctor to go to. I liked how you mentioned to try and find a doctor that would take a holistic approach to treatment and look for root causes instead of just treating based on symptoms. I would like a doctor that would help find the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms! Thank you for all the information!

  18. Jack Duff
    Jack Duff says:

    I like that you mentioned to find a doctor who treats the underlying causes, not just the symptoms. That way, you can be sure he knows what he is doing and is committed to giving you the best care possible. I need to find a doctor for my family, because we just moved to a new state. I will keep this in mind as I search, thanks.

  19. Hannah Neilson
    Hannah Neilson says:

    My sister is looking for a new medical center after her recent move. Your comment about how you want to find a doctor who will have a professional relationship with their patients is really interesting. When my sister is looking for a doctor she’ll have to consider finding someone who will treat the relationship as a professional one.

  20. Hannah Neilson
    Hannah Neilson says:

    I agree that a good doctor is going to care about the symptoms that you give them, but also use them to identify the underlying causes. It would be smart to consider this because it would help ensure that they really care about you, not only about treating your symptoms. I’m looking for a doctor to help take care of some gastrointestinal problems that I have been having recently, so I’ll have to consider their treatment style before I actually choose them.

  21. Riley Smith
    Riley Smith says:

    I like that you talked about choosing a doctor that identify what is causing your symptoms. I have been looking for a doctor after moving to a new area. It would be smart to choose someone that is good at identifying causes because they would be able to help me in the long term.

  22. Hannah Neilson
    Hannah Neilson says:

    I agree that you want to find a doctor that is a coach, not a friend. It would be smart to consider this because it would ensure that you keep the relationship professional. I’m looking for a family doctor, so I’ll have to consider our relationship with them first.

  23. Marcus Coons
    Marcus Coons says:

    I loved when you mentioned how you need to find out if the doctor you want to choose can work with your insurance or not. It is important to remember that doing this can help you avoid getting into debt you can’t pay. We need to find a general practitioner in our new area.

  24. Alexandria Martinez
    Alexandria Martinez says:

    I really like what you said about not having insurance and that not being a bad thing. I’m sure that there are a lot of families who would like knowing this to still get doctor visits. My friend might like knowing this since she was looking into getting a bulk billing service as well.

  25. Rosie Beckett
    Rosie Beckett says:

    My daughter has been experiencing a lot of health problems and we recently moved to a new area so we are looking for a quality doctor. I am glad that I found this article because I had no idea that you should find out if they simply treat symptoms or if they actually heal underlying causes. This is important for my daughter because we want to find a doctor who will care about her symptoms and find the root causes.

  26. Amanda Drew
    Amanda Drew says:

    Thanks for pointing out that you should find a doctor who’ll act more like a coach because, like you, they’ll be committed to helping you heal and go through a complete treatment. I’ve recently moved to a new city, and I need to get a new doctor because I have a lot of health issues like migraines. Your tips will help me find a good one who’ll be able to help me complete treatments.

  27. Amethyst Boheur
    Amethyst Boheur says:

    I really liked it when you suggested asking the potential practitioner if they also have a way of detecting underlying problems and whether or not they also address them. This is important for someone like because I honestly have no idea how to detect whether or not I have other skin problems aside from the one I noticed. I would really appreciate it if the dermatologist that I will hire will do this for me since I really value prevention over cure. Thanks.

  28. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    I agree that you want to consider what sort of area of focus a doctor has. Knowing what kind of things they are good at would be really helpful in making sure that they do good work. My husband and I need someone to vaccinate our kids, so we’ll have to consider their area of focus.

  29. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My skin has been pretty ashy, and I’ve been considering visiting a dermatologist for this. Your article had some good tips for just this, and I liked how you said to consider a doctor that has access to an accessory and internal dispensaries can allow the doctor to prescribe and give you prescriptions at the clinic. Thanks; I”ll keep this isn’t mind when choosing a dermatologist.

  30. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for the tip about asking a doctor if they have treated your problem before. Finding out what kind of past things they have taken care of would give you an idea if they are right for you. My son has had a runny nose all summer, so we’ll have to find a doctor to let us know if its allergies or if its something else.

  31. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for the tip about finding a doctor who heals underlying causes. It would be smart to consider their approach because it would ensure that you find a professional. I’m looking for a dermatologist, so I’ll have to consider their approach to healing before choosing them.

  32. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My family and I just moved to a new area, and we’re looking for a doctor we can start visiting. Your article had some great tips for choosing a doctor, and I liked how you said to ask potential practitioners if they have a dispensary, and if it is more than just supplemental nutrients. This way you can avoid the hassle of a pharmacy, and we’ll keep this in mind when choosing the doctor right for us.

  33. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for the tip about finding a doctor who will be a coach for you. Someone who is going to meet your needs and teach you how to care for yourself would be helpful. My husband and I are looking for someone to help with his heart condition, so we’ll have to make sure they will coach us as well.

  34. Kit Hannigan
    Kit Hannigan says:

    I really like your tip about relying on word-of-mouth referrals for doctors. My wife and I are currently looking for a family doctor that can do routine checkups for everyone. We’ll be sure to go look for referrals for a great physician that has built a great reputation among our friends and family. That’ll be a great way to know which doctors have given the most positive experience for our social circle.

  35. Duncan Lance
    Duncan Lance says:

    Not many people would think about it, but the article makes a very good point about choosing a doctor that actually tries to treat the underlying cause. After all, a lot of doctors will only assign medicine or treatment for your symptoms as they appear. A good doctor will actually look at what is causing the symptoms and try to help you with that instead.

  36. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    I agree that you want to find a doctor who is integrative, not a specialist on one condition. Finding someone who is qualified to treat a lot of different things would help when things go wrong. My husband and I are looking for a doctor, so we’ll have to find someone who knows what to do.

  37. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for these tips on how to find the right doctor for you. I’m trying to find someone to help provide some preventative care for my kids. When I start my search, I’ll have to follow your advice about finding an integrated practitioner who can treat a variety of problems.

  38. Katie Wilson
    Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for these tips on how to find the right physician. I’m looking for a doctor to help with some health problems. When I find them, I’ll have to do as you say and check if they heal underlying causes.

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