Integrated Patient-Centered Care emphasizes patient empowerment that addresses the biophysical, emotional, mental, social, existential and environmental influences that affect a person’s health and coordinates care with the selected support of a team of integrative practitioners who develop a personalized health program which supports the renewal of health and prevention of disease.

This multidimensional form of treatment, a biopsychosocialspiritual recovery model, places the patient’s needs, desires, beliefs, values and goals at the center of their health plan and allows more time for compassionate consultations that discuss, in depth, the patient’s illness, health, culture, life, legacy and loved ones. Integrative Medicine (IM) healthcare teams function well, first and foremost, because they understand how Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) interfaces with conventional medicine and are able to have open-minded, transparent conversations with their patients about a broader range of therapies and medicines.

There is a promising call from the CAMbrella European Policy Brief for investment in CAM/IM research and integration of research results into health policy and health regulation at all levels: private, university, national and European. Even the European Parliament’s CAMDOC Alliance envisages that the term “complementary” will soon be out-dated and replaced with “integrated.” We need to develop leaders who are able to think beyond the conventional medical training they have received. We need to train health professionals to take an interest in whole-systems healthcare, biopsychosocio-environmental health, and work integratively in teams across disciplines.

When doctors ask patients “What is the matter with you?” the deeper question needs to follow, “What matters to you?” It is time to talk, to listen to patient stories, to find meaning in medicine, to engage the heart and soul of the patient and doctor working together, finding health.

For the latest research on compassion, go to Stanford University’s The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE)

Read: Why Kindness Matters to Mood and Health