Naturopathic Medicine & Collaborative Care: A Model for Health

Portland Collaborative CareHere at Heart Spring Health, our goal is to provide patient-centered, collaborative, team-based natural medicine. When first visiting our natural medicine clinic in Portland, patients may be unclear on how our model differs from allopathic medicine. In this article we would like to define and discuss our approach, Collaborative Care, and how it benefits our patients.

Collaborative Care goes by many names. You may have heard it referred to as Integrated Care, Shared Care, Integrated Primary Care, and Primary Care Behavioral Health. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines Collaborative Care according to three key features:
1. Collaboration between different providers. This collaboration may include naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, nurses, doctors, and mental health professionals.
2. A Holistic Approach, which focuses on the whole person and whole family.
3. Mental Health is included in primary healthcare under the Collaborative Care model.
Collaborative care provides integration on both ends of the healthcare system—all healthcare providers are included in the healing process, and the entirety of the patient is considered in treatment.

Without a collaborative approach you may be seeing several physicians that offer specialization and important expertise in a specific area — however, your heart specialist isn’t necessarily in communication with your psychotherapist, for instance. Moreover, a symptom based approach can isolate mental and physical experiences; whereas a naturopathic collaborative approach would bring together the expertise of your specialist and take into consideration that the mind, body, and spirit are seen to work as one. A naturopathic physician understands the importance of standard treatments of care and can help you explore if those standards suit your individual needs and desired outcomes.

In Portland, we are lucky to have an array of healers in alternative medicine, including acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, and talk therapists. At our Portland natural medicine clinic, we engage any health provider whose expertise can help improve the patient’s health. A patient’s team may include naturopathic doctors, nurses, personal trainers, health coaches, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, nutritionists, specialty allopathic physicians and more. All of them work together to provide unparalleled healing to the whole patient.

Here are some of the benefits that collaborative care provides, according to the World Health Organization:

  • Reduces hospital stays, clinical error rates, patient complications, and mortality rates.
  • Accentuates that the patient is an important member of the collaborative healing team.
  • Increases patient satisfaction for care, as well as job satisfaction among health care providers.
  • Makes the best use of each health care provider’s talents and expertise.
  • Enhances efficiency and cost-effectiveness across health care systems.

Mimi Guarneri has said, “The heart is not simply suspended in a body but in a culture, a place, a time.” So also is the patient more than the sum of his or her symptoms. At Heart Spring Health, we offer a wealth of treatment options. Our team of healthcare specialists’ deep and broad knowledge allows for true collaboration across modalities, serving each patient a holistic path to healing.

Consider this your big picture overview of collaborative care. For a more detailed, granular understanding of this new approach to healthcare, stay tuned to this site for upcoming interviews with our doctors.