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.
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