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What’s In a Name? Integrative Medicine Vs. Functional Medicine

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One of language’s inherent qualities is the capacity to have more than one way of saying the same thing—or at least, what might be perceived as the same thing. There seems to be another way of phrasing something in countless cases, which can be helpful for connecting the dots between ideas or it can result in the feeling that you can’t quite find the right word you’re thinking of.

Holistic medicine is no exception, especially when it comes to the connection between your practice, your patients, and the general public who may or may not know a lot about the intricacies of holistic medicine.

That’s why it’s helpful to take a step back to see how people might be referring to holistic medicine, such as integrative medicine or functional medicine, and then dive into the various terminologies to see where they overlap and where they differ. 

In this article, we’ll break down a few popular terms for holistic medicine and discuss why it’s relevant that your practice is aware of them, too.

How Is Integrative Medicine Defined?

Let’s begin with answering the question: what is integrative medicine and how is it defined?

According to the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, integrative medicine is defined as “healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”

They’ve further defined 8 principles of integrative medicine, including points like:

  • Patient and practitioner are partners in the healthcare journey
  • Medicine and treatments are grounded in evidence that proves their effectiveness
  • Natural and less invasive interventions should be used when appropriate and when proven to be effective
  • And more!

Integrative medicine differs from holistic medicine because it involves a global approach to healing, including Western techniques and Eastern medicines.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Integrative medicine is often interchangeably referred to as functional medicine—but this isn’t entirely accurate.

Whereas integrative medicine strives to leverage any kind of medicine, treatment, technique, etc. to help the patient on their wellness journey, functional medicine aims to address the root cause of illness by enabling optimal functions of the body and organs.

The Institute for Functional Medicine explains that “the precise manifestation of each cause [of disease] depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.”

Functional medicine differs from integrative medicine in terms of approach; where integrative medicine seeks to utilize a variety of methods and techniques from around the world and different traditions, functional medicine starts with a deep dive into the patient’s individual make-up.

Other Terms for Holistic Medicine & What They Mean

Let’s dive into a few other common terms related to holistic medicine and what they mean:

  • Homeopathic medicine: This is a particular approach to healing that utilizes plants and minerals to help the body heal itself; there aren’t any regulated certificates or official trainings for homeopathy and this genre garners doubt and skepticism regarding how effective it is
  • Alternative medicine: This is a catch-all term that relates to anything beyond the traditional Western medicine approach, methods, techniques, etc.
  • Naturopathic medicine: An ND is a medical license that uses natural substances to balance a patient’s internal chemistry; NDs are considered primary care physicians, although not every state supports this medical degree

Why It’s Important to Know How to Define Various Terms for Holistic Medicine

Patient education efforts are always a good idea and can take shape in countless ways; one way is to help define various terminologies for your patients to learn more about holistic medicine.

Articulating the various terms that people might refer to your practice can help them realize the intricacies and multiple facets of the work that you do, which leads to a deeper appreciation and can encourage more dialogue between you and your patients, your patients and the general public.

Gaining an awareness and better understanding of the different phrasings people might have for your practice is also beneficial on the marketing front

For example, people in your community might be looking for “integrative medicine” on the internet instead of “holistic medicine”. By knowing this and learning more about your potential clients, you can target those keywords if they resonate with your practice, or, at the very least, you can provide educational material explaining what other terms mean.

Putting yourself in the potential client’s shoes can help you understand their thought process, connect with them in a more meaningful way, and build better relationships

What’s In Holistic Billing Services’ Name? More Time and Energy for Your Holistic Practice

We know that operating a successful, impactful holistic practice requires a plethora of skill sets, time, creativity, and more. You have to wear many hats, which can get overwhelming and result in mounting frustrations and impatience.

But what choice do you have? When it comes to the medical billing and coding process, the burden doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders alone. That’s where Holistic Billing Services is the ace up your sleeve!

With our friendly experts by your side, you’ll enjoy an optimized revenue cycle, accurate claim submissions, prompt payment, and most importantly, more time and energy for your holistic practice.

Contact us today to get started!

August 5, 2022
 - by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME
healthcare kpis
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