NWHSU challenges current approach to patient care

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Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU) is calling on healthcare practitioners and organizations to eliminate the terms “complementary” and “mainstream” in an effort to redefine the future of care.

The Bloomington, Minnesota-based university recently published a position paper, “Integrative Care: Creating a Healthier, More Sustainable System.” According to the paper, in an integrative care system, the goal is health creation: moving beyond symptom and disease management to create resilience for individuals, communities, and the healthcare system. To achieve this, organizations need to leverage a broad healthcare workforce, without distinction between “complementary” and “mainstream” care.

“The pandemic, opioid crisis, and social uprisings of the last few years have shined a light on how our current healthcare model is failing to actually make people healthier,” said Michele Renee, DC, MAc, director of integrative care at NWHSU. “Implementing components of integrative care can move the needle: seeing patients as whole people, looking at care as inclusive of work beyond traditional healthcare, and leveraging a transdisciplinary care team.”

NWHSU calls on the healthcare industry to consider the following:

  • Provide enhanced opportunities for interprofessional education, making space for providers and stakeholders to learn from one another and work collaboratively.
  • Coordinate a wide range of clinical and community resources for patients, emphasizing health creation.
  • Eliminate the idea of “complementary” and “mainstream” healthcare, replacing the dichotomy with an approach that prioritizes the right care at the right time.
  • Align payment models with healthcare outcomes, shifting away from a transactional model and towards one that supports whole-person wellbeing.

Also included in the paper is a table contrasting the current healthcare paradigm and an integrative care paradigm, as well as implementation guidelines for practitioners who are developing a new integrative clinic or who are transitioning to a more integrative practice.