Educating the Public about Naturopathic Medicine’s Role In Our Current Health Care System

I was pleased to have been approached by a graduate student from George Brown College who wished to interview me about my views as a Naturopathic Doctor.  The questions posed were centred on understanding what I perceived to be the most important aspect working in the healthcare sector in my capacity as a Naturopathic Doctor, and also about the greatest challenges encountered.  Here was my response from our interview:

Thank you kindly Kathleen for asking me about my opinions.

I consider patient-centered care the most important aspect working in the health care sector.  When we place patients and their families at the centre and take the time needed to sit down and actively discuss what their health concerns and goals are, reviewing treatment options and their care plan now and 3-, 6- and 12-months down the road – it is hard to not develop a positive and healthful patient-provider relationship.

The patient-provider relationship is important in helping motivate patients to comply as best as they are able with treatment recommendations, to see the positive outcomes they are hoping for, and to be able to honestly discuss ongoing feedback in their care as their treatments progress.  As a patient’s healthcare provider, nothing brings me more joy than to see this positive feedback loop where patients do their best to adhere to recommendations, see improved results and report a higher quality of life that not only affects the patient, but positively impacts their family members and friends as well and certainly affects workplace productivity.  When patients report they feel listened to, are receiving the support they need to improve health, we see a correlation between positive outcomes.

Health is a habit and one that we can all benefit from working on, on an ongoing basis.  When care is centered on the needs of the patient and their families which dis-ease affects, as healthcare providers we are able to positively influence and encourage patients to be their best advocate for their own health.  Patients and their families are vital components of their healthcare team, and I have found that recognition of this leads to the best outcomes and a sense of reward as the healthcare provider helping them with sustainable, manageable solutions to help facilitate health.

In my opinion, efforts to increase opportunities for Naturopathic Doctors to participate in interprofessional collaborative patient care is something that I hope we will see in future healthcare reform, particularly as Ontario Naturopathic Doctors have moved under the Regulated Health Professions Act as of July 2015.  In my opinion, it will improve patient outcomes and experiences, especially given the document HealthForceOntario put together discussing strategic interprofessional care implementation in Ontario.  Here they have defined interprofessional care “as the provision of comprehensive health services to patients by multiple health caregivers, who work collaboratively to deliver quality care within and across settings”.  I find the proposed strategies inspiring as it centers on the patients’ best interests, recognizing interprofessional care as the ideal standard of care.  I hope the Naturopathic Medicine profession will be able to engage in this worthwhile endeavor.

Furthermore, I hope that Naturopathic Doctors too will also be able to bill the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, similar to our esteemed medical counterparts so that patients who arguably could benefit the most from our care, would be able to receive the care provided by the naturopathic profession.

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