The ‘health crises’ of decades past was never entirely resolved. New technologies, diagnostic devices, surgical procedures and research advancements may be dramatically advancing medical outcomes. But the fact remains that ever-increasing reimbursement pressures continue to challenge providers, and better- informed patients still struggle with a lack of insurance or the burden of incredibly high deductibles. Is there any good answer?

Part of the solution may very well lie in alternatives to traditional medicine that have been practiced for literally centuries: integrative or complementary alternative medicine.

According to The Academy of Integrative Health Medicine (AIHM), formed in 2013 as a solution to the growing health care crisis, integrative health and medicine can offer best practices for optimal health and healing and be the way to “transform the way we think about health and health care.”

From relaxation and meditation to and guided imagery to healing music, integrative medicine techniques can be powerful adjuncts to traditional medicine that support patients with pain relief, anxiety reduction, improved sleep and overall peace of mind. There is no shortage of research proving the ability of integrative medicine tools to counteract impediments to recovery as basic as the very stress of illness and hospitalization.

If you ever questioned patient acceptance of integrative medicine before bringing various techniques into your practice or health care facility, the fact is the public no longer views it as ‘kooky’ medicine.

As recently as the last decade, approximately 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children were already using some form of integrative or complementary medicine to improve health and wellness or treat various diseases and conditions. Another 50 percent thought integrative medicine techniques would be interesting to try, while a surprising  84 percent believed conventional medicine [alone] would not help with their health problem.*

The data comes from research developed by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The project gathered information from 23,393 adults aged 18 years or older and 9,417 children aged 17 years and under, including estimates of integrative therapies costs, frequency of visits made to alternative or integrative medicine practitioners, and frequency of self-care therapy purchases. Even then, Americans were spending $33.9 billion out-of-pocket annually on integrative medicine systems, practices and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, acupuncture and more.*

Aside from growing public acceptance of a wide range of integrative techniques, the value of these type of therapeutic approaches has been well documented as a way to help achieve optimal health and healing. Without question, integrative health and medicine appears to be the next frontier in the transformation of medicine and improved outcomes for patients.

For further information, see *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) or visit The Academy for Integrative MedicineThe MedSerenity Channel, an offering of The Wellness Network, helps provide patients with pain relief, anxiety reduction, improved sleep and overall peace of mind through spoken word, meditation, visualization techniques, guided imagery, nature videography and more for enhanced pain management, improved outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.