Integrative Medicine means different things to different people, depending on who is defining it. For many docs using the term, it is just the blending of the best of conventional and alternative medicine based on the research evidence. Some people emphasize the doctor-patient relationship, but that should always simply be part of good medical practice.
Some docs are using the Integrative Medicine label for their own branding and self-promotion. Some are even trying to coopt the term in order to own it in one way or another.
For the most part, Integrative Medicine does not exist. The MDs are doing complementary medicine. They are complementing their main-stream medical approaches with a few alternative therapies. They aren't really trained in these other therapies, and they will always neglect one or more of the alternative therapies, based upon their prejudices.
The patients are going to the acupuncturist, chiropractor and herbalist, but those practitioners are not talking with the MD. And the MD is certainly not talking with them. The supplements and vitamins are being prescribed by the home shopping channel or the guy in the health food store. The MD and the other practitioners rarely know what's going on.
So for the vast majority of instances, Integrative Medicine does not exist. It's a nice idea, but it's not happening, and it's not going to happen. The best we can do is to get our patients to keep records of the various things they are doing for their health, so that we can at least look it over for safety issues.
Patients will always try some new pill or run off to Aunt Millie's homeopath. That's OK -- they have that right. But it's really hard to keep track of all this, even for the patient.
Five percent of Medicare enrollees cost Medicare 43% of its payout. This 5% of Medicare patients has on average 5 major medical problems, and they have on average 14 doctors in their medical records. Do you really think that all 14 of these doctors are integrating or coordinating their care? Even a few of them?
There are only 3 or 4 of us in the U.S. who have the full cross-training to be able to actually do the integration of alternative therapies with conventional medicine for patients in our offices. But even for us, it's a challenge. So for the most part, Integrative Medicine doesn't really exist.
Good health to you -