Reforming and improving healthcare is the focus and challenge of the future. In response to some of these challenges, a holistic approach to healing has begun to spread to major universities, hospitals, healthcare agencies and medical schools. This holistic approach, known as integrative medicine acknowledges that healing is about addressing the mind, body and spirit of the person.
Integrative medicine is a model of integrating care from the best conventional medical protocols with complimentary therapies such as acupuncture, healing touch (an evidence-based modality used by nurses to manage pain, wound/fracture healing, etc), massage and music therapy, yoga and wellness coaching for support with life style changes. The efficacy of these therapies have been widely studied with conditions ranging from gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and stress related to medical illness and surgical procedures as well as pain management post-operatively.
The American Hospital Association reports that there has been a significant increase in hospitals offering complimentary therapies with only 8.6% in 1998 to almost 25% in 2004 with an additional 24% reporting plans to add services in the future. It has been reported that patients who use integrative medicine programs in a hospital are more likely to rate their overall experience higher.
The growing trend and appeal of integrative medicine appears to be coming from the consumers dissatisfaction with the current healthcare system including feeling rushed through appointments and viewed only as their disease or illness, e.g., the breast cancer or the diseased kidney. They want to be viewed in whole as the person with the disease. Healthcare providers are also embracing integrative medicine as a way to reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed and rushed in providing care under the current healthcare system.