The Year of Integrative Health

Without question, the pandemic has been the cause of tremendous confusion about our healthcare system and medical care in general. As one writer put it, “the pandemic (is) spurring a hunger for answers and options that improve overall wellbeing and prevent serious illness.”

The Pandemic’s Silver Lining

The good news is that all the confusion has had a positive effect. It’s led to a shift that has consumers looking for ways to take greater charge when it comes to their health. As a result, the demand for holistic, complementary, integrative, and alternative therapies is rising. In fact, recent figures show that nearly 40% of Americans are turning to integrative treatments for their health concerns. This includes nutritional supplements, chiropractic care and meditation.

The Demand For Whole-Person Care

This is music to my ears for so many reasons. First and foremost is that greater numbers of people are becoming more attuned to their bodies, and they are demanding a seamless approach to “whole-person” care. This is causing a shift in the educational system as well. According to one article, “From University of Miami on the east coast to University of California Irvine on the west, some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious medical schools have added tracks dedicated to natural healing while the number of schools focused exclusively on integrative health and medicine continues to expand. The number of medical schools dedicated exclusively to the practice of integrative medicine is also on rise, like the Whole Health School of Medicine and Sciences recently founded by Walmart heir Alice Walton in Bentonville, Ark.”

Insurance Companies Seeing The Need For Coverage

Some of the forward-looking health insurance companies are already covering the costs of such treatments as acupuncture, mindfulness practice and massage. Chiropractic is covered by most health insurance policies due to its overwhelming evidence-based treatment modalities. The numbers are also in favor of expanding coverage based on a 2018 study in which complementary and alternative medicine users had a lower average expenditure than non-users over a one-year period. 

Health coverage for holistic care is central to ensuring that people have the option of choosing the therapies that are right for them. Without coverage for such treatments, patients may go without, leading to lower patient satisfaction and ultimately higher costs of care.

This Is The Year To Make Integrative Health The Norm

Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) has declared 2022 the Year of Integrative Health. The time is now to make integrative health an integral component of modern medicine.

The AIHM envisions a day when it is no longer acceptable to treat illness using mainstream modalities alone. I see a different way as well, a way that embodies “a synergistic approach that integrates conventional medicine with therapies that take into account each individual’s mind, body and spirit. Integrative health brings together traditional and alternative therapies in a coordinated and complementary way.” I am on board with doing my best to contribute every effort to make this the norm.