Functional medicine is a model of medicine, and has no degree or regulations around it.  Many receive formal education, but there are also many who do not.

Functional medicine is a model of medicine, and has no degree or regulations around it.  Many receive formal education, but there are also many who do not. 

In our experience, there are 3 key elements of a good functional medicine practitioner:

  1. Look for the CAUSES of symptoms and conditions.
  2. Focus on FOOD and LIFESTYLE HABITS as medicine (we can’t out-supplement an inflammatory diet!)
  3. EDUCATE to EMPOWER patients to recognize how stress, foods, chemicals, the environment, and more can affect health (so they don’t have to keep spending money on functional medicine or mainstream medical care).

In mainstream medicine, we may get 15-20 minutes with the practitioner.  Beyond that face-to-face time, the practitioner spends more time on trying to get insurance coverage and proper documentation for your care, rather than focusing on the patient.

  • Thus, total time spent on mainstream medical visits (insurance-based): 30-45 minutes (15-20 minutes with the patient, 15+ minutes spent on insurance-based tasks)

At Center for Collaborative Medicine (CCM), new patient visits allow for 75+ minutes of time, getting to know and understand a patient.  Often the details are where we find the answers to what’s driving a symptom or condition, and this takes time and listening to achieve!  Beyond that 75+ minutes, our practitioners take another hour or more to review records, labs, and more – always focused on the patient, not the insurance requirements.  

Follow up visits are typically an hour, with another hour or so spent outside of the visit for care-related tasks.

  • Thus, total time spent on care for functional medicine visits: 2+ hours (60+ minutes with the provider, 60+ minutes working as a “health detective”)

Mainstream medical practices are limited on labs that can be ordered for a variety of reasons:

  • Insurance “RULES” prevent many practitioners from being able to order too many labs 
  • Practitioners don’t have TIME to interpret complex and detailed labs 
  • Practitioners are trained to look for DISEASE, and are not trained to look for “optimal” ranges on labs that can correlate with symptoms or pre-disease processes.

In functional medicine, we approach testing differently:

  • Look for patterns of DYSFUNCTION, via optimal ranges and patterns
  • We have many MORE testing options that what are available in mainstream medicine.
  • We use labs to TRACK TREATMENTS and lifestyle habit changes (e.g. lower inflammation from sleeping better, more nutrients from eating healthy foods, etc).

At CCM, we don’t profit off the labs we order, and the payment of labs is between the patient and the lab.  Insurance doesn’t get involved unless a patient wants to try to submit their receipt to their insurance for out-of-network reimbursement.

In functional medicine, we tend to recommend more frequent office visits initially so we can check in and catch small problems before they become big ones.

This can sometimes be the hardest for patients, to commit to more visits (in addition to the cost associated with them).  Health is an investment – in time and money!

We try to be up front with this, so patients experience success by working with us.  We recommend all patients plan on an average of 1 visit per month for the first 6 months (cost is around $250-$300 per month)

  • Anything less than this may result in incomplete care and frustration for the patient who didn’t reach their health goals (and sadness on our behalf, as we truly want patients to get better – we can’t succeed without patient involvement!).

Functional medicine sees benefits in both pharmaceutical and “natural” approaches, and licensed functional medicine practitioners (MD, DO, PA, NP) often incorporate both treatment modalities.

However, the wrong approach is to try to use “natural” alternatives for every pharmaceutical.  In reality, supplements are rarely “natural” – only food and herbs can be classified as such!  This approach is known as “Green Allopathy” (treating every symptom and lab result with supplement).

To truly reverse symptoms and conditions requires a change in daily habits – nutrition, relaxation, sleep, movement, mindset, community.  Education on these elements is part of functional medicine care!

  • Even mainstream medicine practitioners know the effects of lifestyle on health – every chronic disease is caused by poor lifestyle factors!

Supplements and vitamins are recommended based off symptoms and lab results.  At CCM, we use these as “therapeutic” (i.e. short term, 6-12 months, to treat/reverse a process) and as “maintenance” (i.e. providing something that cannot be obtained from diet alone).

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