This month, I wanted to share some thoughts about our vision and work as an organization. I hope you enjoy the musings, and that you will join us on our path to the ideal us, by letting us join you on your path to the ideal you!
Organizations, like organisms, are living things. Not in the political, “corporations are people”, sense, but in the sense of complexity and growth. Organizations are complex things with their own force and consciousness with their own interconnected parts that help them to function. They grow, learn, adapt, and, in some cases, die off. The best organizations and companies are constantly in a process of reinvention; however, this reinvention and growth cannot happen at random if the organization is to be successful. In lieu of a newsletter this month, I wanted to offer some thoughts on that topic.
I love sports analogies, so let’s take the Seahawks, as an example. When Pete Caroll took over, the Seahawks organization made more trades, acquisitions, and cuts, than anyone in pro football. The organization realized that it needed to reinvent itself, and it spared no expense in doing so. However, there was a guiding vision of what Pete wanted the team to be, and he stayed true to that vision through all those changes. He even traded one of the most explosive receivers in the game, Percy Harvin, because, as it turned out, Harvin just didn’t mesh with Pete’s vision of the team. That commitment to what you believe is right is the key. And, in Pete’s case, it has led him to one of the most incredible college and pro coaching careers in sports history.
So, what’s the vision of Alpine Integrated Medicine? Over the next few months we will be growing and hiring new practitioners to serve the needs of our community. This will of course come with its own set of challenges, but all of those changes are in line with my vision of this clinic, and my vision of what healthcare should be, and is becoming.
Here at AIM, our vision is to create a community resource that can help every member of our community live their best, happiest, and most fulfilled life. That’s it.
Now, the larger question is how do we go about achieving that vision? Part of that involves our commitment to collaborative care—when we work together, patients benefit. Part of it involves the specific services we offer. Part of it involves how we make it reasonable to afford those services. I think the answer is complex, but a major portion of it lies at the cross section of health care for the sick, and more importantly, health care for the well.
I often tell patients: “come see me when you’re sick, and I can help…but I can really help if you come see me when you’re well.” The thing is, our thinking in this country is very reactive. We don’t plan ahead anywhere near as much as we ought to. We want things now, and we are not willing to wait, even if the thing we get now does harm down the road. In some ways, this thinking has spurred new invention and technology, but in others, it has left us in a poor state. Healthcare is one of the primary industries in our society that is worsened by reactive thinking. Reactive thinking ends up costing more money, reducing our quality of life, and even our life span, when considered in a medical context. The reason your insurance is so expensive, for example, is not because of your primary care visits; the reason insurance is so expensive is because of medical procedures, many of which are unnecessary or preventable. Teaching someone to lower cholesterol is cheap; heart surgery to open blocked arteries is expensive. How do we find that balance? We want to help people when they are sick, or course. But even more, we want to help people when they are well—to be partners with them as they walk a path to optimize their health and quality of life.
So, the questions are, for us as a community medical clinic:
- What services and products do we offer that fit our vision of community wellness?
- How do we systematize collaboration between providers, so that the word “integrated” in our name has real meaning?
- How do we influence the trajectory of health and wellness care outside our community?
- How do we ensure that our providers deliver the highest quality care?
For now, I’d like to address the first two questions, and give you a sense of what we are building here—let’s take a walk on the path to our vision.
First, the question of services. We believe in Natural Primary Care as the basis for our vision of health, and at the same time have identified other areas that we have found also allow our patients to optimize their health, and live happier, more fulfilling lives. Naturopathic Medicine offers a more holistic way to look at patients, with longer visits, and a commitment to seeking the root cause of illness. This leads to more long term fixes, rather than just ameliorating symptoms. Specialty areas of natural medicine, such as Hormone Replacement, Detoxifications, and even Homeopathy, are also a part of that picture. Acupuncture and Massage Therapy are already part of what we do, and we believe strongly in these therapies for healing injury and also in times of wellness for a number of issues from stress, to mobility, to libido. Physical Therapy is another aspect of health and wellness care that will become part of our clinic in the future, as we look to build on our work with physical rehabilitation, vehicle accident rehabilitation, and sports rehab. Nutritional IV Therapy is something that is becoming very popular as people realize the benefits of a 45 minute IV drip that can be customized to their needs, be they improving energy, supporting immunity, increasing vitality, and even recovering from a late night in (or out) of the office. Along with the IV products being of the absolute highest available quality, our entire line of vitamins, supplements, and Chinese herbs are the best available.
To sum up: AIM’s vision of wellness care includes Natural Primary Care, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nutritional IV Therapy, and other specialty areas such as Men’s/Women’s health, Hormone Replacement, Nutrition and Diet, and even food end environmental allergy testing and treatment.
Basically, we want anyone from our community to be able to walk in our doors, and get care for any issue that ails them outside of a surgical procedure. As we work toward an expansion later this year, look for us to add the final pieces to that vision, including a dedicated Physical Therapist.
Second, the question of collaboration (being “integrated”). Natural providers love all the various forms of the word “integrate”. Just can’t get enough of that word, but is it just a word, or does it have meaning? Most describe themselves as “integrative”, which literally means “having the capacity to integrate”. Some, like us, use the term “integrated” instead, which implies that we are indeed, already integrated. This can seem like a trivial semantic shift, but I believe it to be significant, because I have been to too many places that refer to themselves as integrative, but who don’t work collaboratively, and who don’t integrate multiple modes of care or treatment. Everyone has the capacity to integrate their work with the work of others, but they don’t, in practice. The fact is, collaborating is hard. It forces us to admit that we are not all-knowing, it forces us to suspend our assumptions and beliefs, and it puts the patient at the forefront, and not the doctor. At AIM, this is not just verbiage or lip service. We systematically collaborate and work together on patient care. This happens in two primary ways, currently. First, we actively seek out other modalities that would have positive results for our patients. For example, I might see someone for migraines, and offer a treatment, but then I would also follow up with our Acupuncturists, and see what they might recommend for the migraines. By working together, we can help patients have better results than by focusing on just our own knowledge base. Second, we actively collaborate and brainstorm about challenging cases in our weekly “grand rounds” dialogue session. Every Saturday, all of our practitioners meet to discuss cases and share ideas, which leads to new treatment ideas and increased focus on certain patient cases. We hope to develop other systemic collaboration as we continue to grow and expand. Collaborating is not easy and it is not “normal”. We’re committed to the process of integrated care thought, because we have seen the results, and they are excellent.
And finally, I come to the idea that all of this is a process. Our clinic is like a living thing, it is evolving, growing, learning, and becoming the vision. The Azie-Rentz family, all our staff and our providers, all of us in this community, are walking that path toward the greater vision of ourselves, becoming all that we desire to be. Alpine Integrated Medicine wants to be part of the path you are walking too, and help you AIM for health!
Dr. Brooke Azie Rentz
Alpine Integrated Medicine