The ultimate goal of Integrative Health is system-wide transformation. A truly integrative, Whole Health-based healthcare system fully supports patient-centered care, the care that all clinicians know is important, but that may not always be possible to provide the way they would like because of various barriers and challenges. Optimally, a health care system informed by Integrative Health emphasizes personal health planning, patient empowerment, and seamless care by transdisciplinary interprofessional teams. The system must be supported by leadership at all levels. While level of engagement may vary from person to person on the staff, the key is to have a critical mass of people any given facility who are committed to making positive change happen. This commitment is needed at the individual and group (team) levels, as well as at the wider organizational level. It is also vital that patients be equally committed to this, as the recipients of care.
Key Elements of the System
An Integrative Health System shares many similarities with the Whole Health System model, which is being actively advanced within VA Health System. This frames care according to 3 key elements, as featured in Figure 1:
1. The Pathway. A person’s Whole Health experience typically begins with the Pathway. That is, patients are oriented to Whole Health and reflect on how improving their health could support their Meaning, Aspiration, Purpose (MAP). They begin learning more about, and can choose to directly experience, different ways to care for themselves and seek care from others.
2. Well-Being Programs. In this health care system, each patient has access to support to successfully achieve self-care goals. They can take various classes, work with peers who are trained to support them in this model, consult with specially trained health coaches, and explore various Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) approaches.
3. Clinical Care. Clinicians of all types—providers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, chaplains, pharmacists, physical therapists, and so on—weave the Whole Health approach into their patient encounters. All the members of a transdisciplinary team support each person with their goal setting and personal health planning.
Figure 1. Key Elements of the Whole Health System
Please see the downloads section for more detailed clinician and patient information.
Disclaimer: This information is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use it in the best way possible to promote your health.