Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Integrative Medicine and Health Coaching: Democratization of Medicine
We are on the brink of change in the way that we approach medicine. Many have struggled with accessing the healing they need or have been ran through the system without proper time and assessment of needs. Due to the limitations and barriers that office visits have, we must integrate a new way to systemically practice medicine and educate people about health. The current model of medicine has relied on the biomedical doctor’s knowledge and ability to navigate through disease and cure, but what about the experience and wisdom that the person carries about their own body and way of healing? The individual has the right to decide their route of care based on multiple medical approaches that are designed to facilitate client-centered care. Dr. David Rakel (2017), author of Integrative Medicine writes:
"The scientific model led to greater understanding of the pathophysiological basis of disease and the development of tools to help combat its influence. However, this approach does not work well for chronic disease that involves more than just a single organ. In fact, all body organs are interconnected, so simply repairing a part without addressing the underlying causes provides only temporary relief and a false sense of security. This, in part, resulted in a very expensive health care system in Americans with poor health outcomes. The deterioration of the patient-provider relationship and the inability of the medical system to treat chronic disease adequately has contributed to rising interest in complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, health care professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing. Integrative medicine is healing-oriented and emphasizes the centrality of the physician-patient relationship. It focuses on the least invasive, least toxic, and least costly methods to help facilitate health by integrating both allopathic and complementary therapies. These therapies are recommended based on an understanding of the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the individual. The goal of integrative medicine is to facilitate health within complex systems, from the individual to the communities and environment in which all things live.”
Integrative medicine has created a paradigm of medicine that focuses on prevention, utilizes technology, and develops cost-effective forms of care that reduce the barriers to healthcare by providing a team-oriented approach to healing. Stress, which many CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) labeled mind-body therapies address, was found to be the second leading risk factor for heart disease after smoking in one of the largest studies every completed across multiple cultures (Rakel, 2017). Health coaching is one facet of integrative medicine that is becoming an increasingly popular way to educate and empower individuals using digital technologies such as biofeedback and neurofeedback to reduce stress. Digital technologies balance the access to information that the patient or client has by allowing them to monitor their own health and well-being (Drouin, 2017). This updated curriculum of medicine requires the patient to be well-informed and make choices about their treatment from a place of awareness. The health coach is a licensed professional that trains the individual to use bio-sensitive devices that observe, measure, record and feedback: brain activities, heart rhythms, breath rhythms, sleep quality (mood and fatigue sensor), calories, step counter, distance covered, and vital signs (blood pressure, ECG, GSR, temperature) (Drouin, 2017). The health coach’s role in this model of medicine is to help the individual unleash their full potential by giving them the tools they need to improve their quality of life. The health coach supports the client and helps them manage their stress by training them to relax. From there, it is up to the individual to heal themselves.