A great mechanic is priceless when your car is not running well. The same is true for a plumber when the water is not working right in your house or the air conditioner repairman on a hot summer day. Isn’t a little funny that consumers often go to a given doctor based on insurance coverage and not reputation? For simple problems, the choice of doctor may not always be an issue. But for many doctor visits, the relationship established with the doctor and his or her staff will have a significant impact on the care and outcome of your health questions. The growth of non-traditional therapies has boomed, and many patients are seeking doctors who employ some of these non-traditional therapies as part of an integrative repertoire.
A common question from patients coming to my office for integrative medicine is where they can find an integrative physician in their state. It can be hard to find such a practitioner until you know where to look. The Internet, in some cases, makes this process much easier. Often times the search needs to be further refined. A good place to start would be through the academic associations related to integrative medicine. These can be found on the web and include:
- American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM): ACAM has been a leader in ongoing use and research of chelation therapy. ACAM now supports biannual meetings to promote education in a variety of cutting edge integrative approaches to chronic medical disease. On the ACAM site, consumers can look for doctors by state and see what specialty areas the doctors include in their practice.
- The Arizona University Fellowship in Integrative Medicine: Dr. Andrew Weil, MD brought non-traditional therapy education to mainstream medicine at the University of Arizona. For many years, this 2 year fellowship program has taught doctors the specialty of integrating various types of non-traditional therapies into the conventional medicine practice.
- American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M): A4M is a leader in the education of hormone therapies and sponsors many educational opportunities around the world encouraging science that promotes health and longevity.
- International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM): ICIM, like its counterparts, has for several decades provided a forum for doctors interested in non-traditional therapies like chelation, even when these treatments were shunned by mainstream allopathic medicine.
Other practitioners of integrative medicine include naturopathic physicians and chiropractors. Online resources for exist for these practitioners as well and include:
- The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians: The website provides much background on naturopathic physicians, including a directory to find a local practitioner.
- Local chiropractors can be found through http://www.acatoday.org/.
Study your options when choosing an integrative practitioner. Ask yourself why you are choosing such a practitioner. Is it for help with a particular condition, or just for general health questions? If the concerns are specific, ask the practitioner’s office if this area is one that the doctor frequently covers. Most practitioners have a website that covers their areas of expertise. Study the practitioner’s website to see if the practitioner has experience with your illness or area of concern. Insurance will vary among practitioners. Some may take particular insurance, others may not. Ask which insurances are taken, and if none are taken ask if a receipt is given so that it can be turned into your insurance program. The coverage for such a visit typically falls under the category of an out-of-network provider.
The growth of non-traditional therapies in this country for the past three decades has been dramatic. Just as dramatic is the growing disappointment in our current health care model, which will cost our country over 2.3 trillion dollars this year. With all of our spending we still do not rank among the top 30 health care systems in the world! Patient education is a critical piece to improve our floundering health care system. Patients desire better health, and they are often frustrated on how to find more answers on non-traditional options. If you have questions about integrative medicine approaches, find a doctor who can help answer these questions.