Herbs? Essential Oils? Reiki? Acupuncture? I’m a believer, which is why I’m always thrilled to learn about the growing acceptance of alternative medicine. The University Hospital’s Connor Integrative Medical Network, Cleveland, Ohio, is the latest I’ve read about. What got my attention is that as an academic medical center, University Hospital is touting their alternative medicine as “evidence-based” therapy. In this world of value-based reimbursement, results matter. And they are getting them.
More and more patients, tired of the pain meds, side effects and continued pain, are opting for natural remedies. Thankfully, half of all medical schools are now offering courses in alternative medicine. And while it’s still not at all mainstream, coverage is growing. New Hampshire naturopathic docs just celebrated a big win in June with legislation providing insurance coverage for their services. Most of us still have to cough up the dough ourselves, but find it very worthwhile.
That’s because naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. NDs find the underlying cause, helping to create a healing internal and external environment. Recommendations often involve dietary modification including “clean eating” (maybe why 2011 gluten-free sales were $2.7 billion, estimated to grow to $3.4 billion by 2015, according to a Euromonitor International estimate), herbal supplements, nutrients, exercise, massage, etc. When combined with traditional medicine, you get the best of both worlds. The problem for the patient has been it’s so hard to know how to blend it all, when to listen to your MD or your ND, when to stop the meds and start the meditation.
Aside from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, I haven’t seen many hospitals or health systems leading the way in claiming an “alternative”, “integrative”, or “naturopathic” brand. But I predict as the evidence grows (and I’m confident it will), this brand position will grow. What do you think?