There are a couple of obvious questions that patients ask of prospective I&FM practices, such as: Is insurance accepted? What are the fees? When can I be seen? Two additional areas that patients may use to evaluate practices are their focus and treatments.
It might be helpful to consider four types of focus to evaluate practices: Wellness, Disease, Symptom and Treatment. While each focus is not always distinct from the others, looking at each focus can help patients to understand where a practice places its energy in treating patients.
- A Wellness focus targets the general wellbeing of the patient, such as helping patients to achieve optimal health through diet, exercise and nutrition.
- A Disease focus targets a specific condition or conditions, such as fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme, Hashimoto’s disease, etc.
- A Symptom focus targets a specific symptom or symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction, weight loss, chronic fatigue, etc.
- A Treatment focus provides specific treatment, such as stem cells, infusion, ozone therapy, etc.
e3FM’s Physician Directory lists Integrative and Functional Medicine (“I&FM”) physicians who offer a broad focus on Disease and Symptoms. While practices that focus on just one disease or symptom may be successful in treating patients, this requires a correct assessment of the patient’s condition as well as a patient whose condition is limited to that disease or symptom. e3FM’s Physician Directory attempts to provide I&FM physicians whose focus is a comprehensive I&FM approach.
Prospective patients should also note the treatments offered by practices. If a practice offers infusion, for example, it is more than likely that infusion will be incorporated into each treatment plan. Patients should inquire about the treatments supported by the practice and the cost of these treatments, (including frequency and duration), so that these costs can be included in any cost projections for that practice.
It is important to remember that not every patient and practice are a good fit. e3FM has put together some additional points under “I&FM Information” to help patients understand issues related to I&FM practices, including what patients can expect from most I&FM practices.