Integrative Health Care as a Quality Improvement Initiative

This article discusses Integrative Health Care as a Quality Improvement Initiative.

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Integrative Health Care as a Quality Improvement Initiative

Purpose

Many healthcare organizations emphasize on providing and sustaining the quality of care and patient safety. These organizations’ effectiveness is measured by assessing the quality of patient care. Integrative health care (IHC) is a form of patient-centered care that ensures patients’ preferences, needs, and values guide clinical decisions.  IHC responds to patient demands for complementary and conventional treatment methods simultaneously. This approach involves wholeness, treating and caring for a patient considering all aspects, including lifestyle, spirituality, family, and communal factors. Integrative health care seeks to improve a patient’s health and well-being by assessing the causal factors. The approach helps patients manage their lives better to prevent illnesses or manage chronic diseases and live longer. The healthcare environment is becoming complex with the emergence of many diseases, the growing elderly population, and the deteriorating people’s health due to lifestyles (Kania-Richmond & Metcalfe, 2017). There is an increasing focus on health promotion through disease prevention. Therefore, there is a need to develop and implement IHC practices and programs that promote healthy living through patient education and embracing alternative treatment methods.

Target Population And Audience

Integrative health care involves the government, healthcare organizations, healthcare practitioners, patients, family, and the community. Promoting healthy living is the role of every person, and healthcare organizations serve as supportive structures that educate, guide, and promote healthy lifestyles. Many chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes originate from lifestyle choices (Delgado et al., 2014). Research on treatment medicines is not enough to deal with what seems to become more troublesome daily. This approach needs every party’s intervention, and the government sets policies, healthcare organizations, and staff that guide and promote healthy living, the patients to embrace this initiative, and the community to support and promote the initiative.

Benefits Of Integrative Health Care

This distinct approach to quality improvement involves combining complementary and conventional treatment methods to address a person’s health needs. IHC components are a whole person or holistic approach to care, personalized care, patient-centered care, and an emphasis on wellness. A whole person’s care is a combination of different dimensions: the physical body, soul/mind, spirituality, and environmental and social relationships. Personalized care is tailored to address an individual’s unique needs and circumstances. In patient-centered care, patients make significant decisions, and their preferences, needs, and values influence every clinical decision (Kania-Richmond & Metcalfe, 2017). Wellness focuses on enhancing and supporting an individual’s well-being and disease prevention.

IHC encourages personalized and therapeutic relationships between care providers and patients. These close and mutual relations enables patients to build trust with their caregivers. IHC focuses on preventing and supporting optimal health before disease development (Gannotta et al., 2018). Physicians and nurses provide lifestyle options, such as eating habits, exercise, avoiding alcohol and drug use, avoiding harmful surgeries, to their clients and the community that facilitate healthy living. Individuals and community education and campaigns help create awareness about the prevailing medical issues and how to live healthily. Complementary and conventional treatment methods reinforce the body’s innate ability to heal.

IHC takes a holistic approach, focusing on the whole individual rather than specifics. The concept considers an individual’s immediate environment, lifestyle choices, social relationships, activity levels, and emotional wellness that influence emerging problems. It also emphasizes open and honest relationships and collaborations between patients and healthcare practitioners. These relationships are built on trust and mutual respect that are highly desired modern health care attributes. The warm, empathetic, and friendly environment promotes efficient healing of the body and soul. These relationships also help develop personalized care essential for uncovering physiological and psychological components that affect a patient’s well-being. According to Hollenberg (2006), IHC blends scientific and allopathic treatment and care approaches with alternative medicine to promote health and ensure effective disease management.

Interprofessional Collaboration Required

Integrative health care requires physicians, nurses, counselors, and social workers. These individuals interact closely with patients daily and are vital for the integrative health care initiative (Chung, Ma, Hong & Griffiths, 2012). Their work affects the quality of care and patient safety. They possess the knowledge and skills patients to require to live healthy, prevent diseases, and heal. Physicians are responsible for promoting, maintaining, and restoring health by undertaking study, diagnosing, and treating diseases. They identify causal factors and provide the best lifestyle options to manage the condition and restore health. Nurses act as caregivers, and they are the most vital in this initiative as they manage the physical patient needs in preventing and treating health conditions. They facilitate holistic care, which involves psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects. Counselors will give guidance to patients on their personal and psychological problems. Social workers help individuals to cope and solve problems in their daily lives. This interprofessional collaboration would be pivotal in the success of IHC.

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Integrative Health Care as a Quality Improvement Initiative
Integrative Health Care as a Quality Improvement Initiative

Cost Justification

Integrative health care is cost-effective for all involved parties. The approach is innovative and focuses on relationships and collaborations between healthcare practitioners and patients. IHC facilitates lower costs and improved results in disease prevention, treatment, and management, especially for chronic diseases. People learn how to lead healthy lifestyles, essential in disease prevention and management. The government and other funders incur considerable costs dealing with diseases like cancer and diabetes, mostly due to poor lifestyle choices. IHC approach seeks to help prevent these disease occurrences, which would hugely reduce the cost of treating and managing them. According to Gannotta et al. (2018), there are increased costs of adding more centers and care programs, but hospital costs decrease long-term as treatment requirements decrease.

Basis Of Evaluation

Evaluating IHC is a longtime thing since the primary purpose is to improve individuals’ health and well-being. IHC model focuses on disease prevention by offering a variety of lifestyle choices. The results are disease occurrence decrease and better management of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. The assessment process can be centered on an organization and its patients. Their progress would determine the effectiveness of the initiative. For instance, patients with diabetes adopting physician-provided lifestyle options, and the disease symptoms decreasing.

Another example is the effectiveness of IHC in reducing pain and anxiety related to cardiovascular diseases. IHC therapies’ effectiveness in reducing pain and anxiety is a basis of evaluation (Johnson et al., 2014). IHC seeks to improve the quality of life and reduce disease treatment requirements. The assessment would involve looking into the various IHC components and interventions. An organization would ask itself questions like, are the selected therapies working? What is the yearly admission of cancer and diabetes patients? Are our general treatment requirements decreasing? How do patients rate the lifestyle options provided? These questions will help determine if the IHC approach meets expectations.

Conclusion

Integrative health care focuses on a person’s wholeness, promoting disease prevention and management by combining complementary and conventional treatment methods. IHC effectively enhances the quality of care and patient safety through therapeutic relationships and education. Encouraging healthy communities reduces disease occurrence hence a decrease in treatment requirements. 

References

Chung, V. C., Ma, P. H., Hong, L. C., & Griffiths, S. M. (2012). Organizational determinants of interprofessional collaboration in integrative health care: a systematic review of qualitative studies. PloS one7(11), e50022.

Delgado, R., York, A., Lee, C., Crawford, C., Buckenmaier III, C., Schoomaker, E., & Crawford, P. (2014). Assessing the quality, efficacy, and effectiveness of the current evidence base of active self-care complementary and integrative medicine therapies for managing chronic pain: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature. Pain Medicine15(S1), S9-S20.

Gannotta, R., Malik, S., Chan, A. Y., Urgun, K., Hsu, F., & Vadera, S. (2018). Integrative medicine is a vital component of patient care. Cureus10(8).

Hollenberg, D. (2006). Uncharted ground: patterns of professional interaction among complementary/alternative and biomedical practitioners in integrative health care settings. Social science & medicine62(3), 731-744.

Johnson, J. R., Crespin, D. J., Griffin, K. H., Finch, M. D., Rivard, R. L., Baechler, C. J., & Dusek, J. A. (2014). The effectiveness of integrative medicine interventions on pain and anxiety in cardiovascular inpatients: a practice-based research evaluation. BMC complementary and alternative medicine14(1), 1-10.

Kania-Richmond, A., & Metcalfe, A. (2017). Integrative health care–What are the relevant health outcomes from a practice perspective? A survey. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 17(1), 1-8.                

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