Value-Based Medicine May Help the Naturopathy Cause
Few of us involved in the healthcare industry would argue the fact that the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as law has already had a profound impact on the way healthcare services are delivered in the United States. One of the core components of ACA reform is a new emphasis on value-based medicine rather than the old fee-for-service model. Whether you like the ACA or not, one thing we can say is that the shift toward value-based medicine may end up being very good for the naturopathic community.
Fee-for-service medicine is pretty simple. You and your insurance company pay a flat fee to see your general practitioner for whatever malady is bothering you. Your GP either writes you a prescription or refers you to a specialist. In either case, you and your insurance company pay another flat fee. This continues until you are either satisfied that your treatment is complete, or you simply give up in exasperation.
Value-based medicine is an entirely different ballgame. It is not concerned with individual treatments as much as it is outcomes and patient satisfaction. A value-based business model is also a patient-centered model that is flexible enough to account for the broadest possible range of treatments in order to achieve the best physical, mental, and emotional outcomes. It seeks to engage patients as part of the healing process with the knowledge that their confidence and satisfaction goes a long way toward producing positive physical outcomes.
Influence on Naturopathic Medicine
With the differences between fee-for-service and value-based medicine out of the way, you might be wondering how all of this impacts naturopathic medicine. To begin with, we know of no major insurance company that currently recognizes naturopathic treatments as valid choices. Therefore, patients who seek out naturopathic care pay for it out of pocket.
Value-based medicine would appear to take a different approach to naturopathy if certain naturopathic treatments could provide the kinds of positive outcomes we are looking for. In other words, as long as the medical community is being forced to measure success in terms of the overall value of treatment, they may have to have to start looking at naturopathy as one of many possible choices for the treatment of certain conditions.
As I’ve explained numerous times in the past, the hallmark of naturopathy is the principle of identifying the underlying causes of disease so that these can be either corrected or eliminated. To a growing number of healthcare patients across the country, this approach equals value. Patients are expressing growing frustrations with allopathic medicine that only treats symptoms rather than going after root causes. They see this as anything but value; they see it as a waste of time and money.
Patient Satisfaction at the Core
Those leading the charge in healthcare reform have finally come to understand that patient satisfaction must be at the core if reform is to succeed. Satisfied patients are patients who end up feeling better and, as a result, have a reduced need for ongoing medical care. This is what value is all about. It is about actually getting the care you need, based on identifying and correcting root causes so that you don’t have to keep spending money on doctor visits and treatments that do nothing.
We believe naturopathic medicine can be an important component in making sure that healthcare reform succeeds. Hopefully, insurance companies, government leaders, healthcare executives and our allopathic colleagues will come around sooner rather than later.