If one thinks of “health care” as a working with the system from health to death (or near death), all the present models of “health care” can be understood. Really, the system could be redefined to include three separate levels of care:
- Crisis Care – Deals with emergency situations and is based on preventing loss of life, usually, handled in hospital environments with extreme measures. This level of care is usually for those who are critically ill and is used to bring them up to the stage of “clinically sick or ill” or better.
- Symptomatic Care – Deals with eliminating the presenting symptoms and making the person “feel” better. This can be handled well with drugs, herbs or physical therapies such as dental treatment and chiropractic, but it often allows the real cause to go undetected until it becomes a crisis.
- Health Care – Deals with attempting to make the system function at its optimal level. Usually, this is asymptomatic care and the doctor needs to use other objective measures to determine the patients’ status and treatment results (i.e. lab tests, posture, computer analyses and so on ...).
This phase of care can use a wide range of modalities including the well-known western medical techniques, both physical and chemical, as well as “traditional” or “alternative” techniques. This is often mistakenly called “preventive” or “maintenance” care, however it really should not be called maintenance care until optimal health has been achieved. For some this is a difficult task, but it is the ultimate goal of dedicated health professionals.
Modern or “Western” Medicine most commonly deals with Crisis and Symptomatic Care, and regards the patient as healthy once the presenting symptoms are dealt with to the satisfaction of the doctor. Indeed, for Crisis Care, Modern Medicine is most commonly the best approach, however we have often heard of those patients for whom there has been no further hope in Modern Medicine, and yet herbal approaches and even “faith healers” have “miraculously” saved them.
Asymptomatic Health Care is probably best dealt with using more alternative techniques such as herbal medicine, manual therapies, nutritional control, and some of the more esoteric exercise regimes like Yoga and Tai Chi. At Integrated Dentistry, we prefer to refer to this as "Complementary Health Care", as it complements other forms of care - it does not replace them.