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Become Your Own Health Advocate: Choosing the Best Medical Approach

Become Your Own Health Advocate: Choosing the Best Medical Approach

Find out the various practices of medicine to help choose a doctor wisely 

Finding a doctor who meets the necessary healthcare qualifications can be daunting. A specific diagnosis may require a specialist. Perhaps simply relieving symptoms of an illness is all that is needed. Either way, there are several options for various styles of medicine.   

Guide is here to help anyone with a diagnosis figure out how to navigate health care. There will be several future stories in the “Becoming Your Own Health Advocate” series. These articles will break down the process. They will also arm readers with information to help along every step of the way.  


Choosing the Medical Approach  

Depending on the diagnosis, choices for the proper treatment can vary amongst doctors’ certifications. Once doctors leave medical school, some stay within their unspecified degree, while others continue their education and are certified in specializations like Functional or Integrative medicine, Gastroenterology or Obstetrics, to name a few.   


Conventional Medicine  

This approach to medicine is where medical doctors treat short-duration diseases and symptoms using mainstream practices like drugs, radiation or surgery. They diagnose and treat the symptoms of an illness or injuries that require urgent care. This may be appropriate when the condition can be treated through a specific drug or surgery, like a broken leg or appendicitis.  

This model of care diagnoses the disease and matches it with a corresponding drug. This is not the best choice for chronic illnesses like autoimmunity, allergies, digestive or metabolic issues, or neurological problems, which need a deeper dive into the root causation. 

Most health insurance companies will cover these types of doctor visits, as well as medical labs and surgeries.  


Functional Medicine  

Functional medicine is a personalized form of medicine that focuses on optimizing the function of each system in the body. This patient-centered discipline searches for the root causation of an illness and finds treatments to heal the entire body, bringing it back into balance.  

Functional medicine is more investigative in nature, as it looks at the individual’s biology, as well as social and lifestyle factors. 

Only specific lab work, treatments or surgeries will be covered by insurance when care is provided by a prescribing Primary Care physician. 

However, it is noted that when a patient seeks out the causation of disease and can mitigate it through proper diagnosis and treatments, costs increase considerably. Though this thorough examination and investigation costs more, it may heal the illness altogether, whereas conventional medicine does not do further treatment to cure the disease.  


See Also

Integrative Medicine  

Integrative medicine doctors combine cutting-edge techniques. They utilize specific tools and assessments in epigenetics (gene expression), exercise, genetics and nutrition to heal the mind and body. This modality also looks for the root causation of the illness. 

These doctors will look at all aspects of the patient’s health history. Integrative approaches may use acupuncture, animal-assisted therapy, aromatherapy, botanicals, massage, mind-body therapies, supplements, tai chi and yoga in addition to traditional care.  

Most insurance companies will only cover conventional medicine services like testing, drugs and surgery within this practice. 

Awareness of each modality of medicine can give the patient the best chance at creating an action plan for their healing and recovery. 


By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT.  

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