The Top Four Barriers Doctors Face When Transitioning to Integrative Medicine

The information below comes from our Integrative Physician Market Landscape 2017: A RealPersona Segmentation Study of U.S. Integrative MDs and DOs.

As mentioned in our previous article on the timing of transition from a conventional to an integrative practice, it’s important to understand the barriers doctors face when making their transition. The challenges are varied and numerous.

If companies support doctors in transition, they can speed up the time of transition and build a valuable relationship as a practice partner — one that may pay off down the road as that doctor’s integrative practice grows.

#1 Barrier: Learning to sustain a practice without insurance reimbursement

The issue of insurance was the top perceived barrier for 56% of doctors surveyed, and is also an acknowledged current challenge they face. While most of these physicians continue to deal with insurance, many integrative approaches are often not covered by insurance, and therefore, “learning how to sustain a practice without insurance” was an important concern for these doctors.

How you can help them: To support these doctors’ integrative transitions, provide proven advice and support on how to operate a more cash-based business model. Connecting them to other doctors who have successfully navigated this hurdle can support their transition.

#2-3 Barriers: Time for additional training/obtaining knowledge and experience about integrative approaches

The time required to gain foundational knowledge (54%) and acquire the additional training needed (53%) to feel comfortable practicing integratively were also cited as barriers by more than half of these physicians.

How you can help them: Our experience with practitioners has shown that time management is an issue faced across credentials. Practice management education can help these doctors understand what changes they need to make in schedule, process, and staff in order to find time for additional training.

Once they’ve found the time, provide a range of options for them to learn new integrative approaches and clinical protocols. Webinars, online courses, lunch & learns, and seminars are all valuable methods of providing training and increasing clinical knowledge.

#4 Barrier: Financial security

Many of these doctors were uncertain about how to make the transition to integrative medicine, which helped drive fears around financial security (reported by 46%), and the ability to successfully make the transition. These barriers prevented these doctors from making the transition as quickly as they would have liked.

How you can help them: Ultimately, combating this barrier is all about increasing clinical confidence and belief in a successful transition. By being the physician’s partner in providing practice management, clinical education, and connections to potential mentors who have made the transition, companies can help grow practitioner confidence.

Learning the business of medicine

When asked what advice they would give to younger doctors wanting to practice integrative medicine, a seasoned integrative doctor said, “I think they need to be prepared. I think that they need to understand the business of medicine. Medicine isn’t just about taking care of patients. There’s also a business of medicine, and I think people need to be better versed in what that looks like, because I think otherwise, it creates a lot of surprises.”

In a medical environment that is undergoing constant change and increased financial pressure, nutritional supplement, medical device, medical software, and medical food companies can provide support— either through sponsoring education, or providing alternate revenue streams. The companies who are there when these young physicians need it will gain their loyalty.

Find out more about our groundbreaking research study and purchase the report here.