Practice finds success with integrative approach to medicine

August 25, 2013

Pediatrician and author Dr. Lawrence Rosen has found success in expanding services and integrating less-than-traditional modalities.

 

The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, New Jersey, combines traditional pediatric care services with an integrative approach to wellness. Some of its less-traditional services include: infant massage, nutritional counseling, clinical homeopathy, yoga and mind/body therapies.

He wants to change the world – one patient at a time.

In fact, pediatrician and author Lawrence Rosen, MD, of Oradell, New Jersey, founder of the Whole Child Center, combines a traditional practice in less-than traditional ways. The practice says it blends integrative medicine with ecologically sustainable healthcare for children and families.

“We are struggling in healthcare to do just that-to create health,” Rosen explains. “Not just cheaper care, but better care. What does it mean to be healthier? At the same time we need to recognize that there are significant economic difficulties in our healthcare system.” As a result, healthcare needs wholesale changes as it relates to how and why pediatricians and family physicians provide healthcare, Rosen says.

Consider the types of diseases most primary care physicians are seeing-obesity, asthma, autism, attention deficit disorder, metabolic disorders in adults. “We are treating sicker and sicker people later in life with after-the-fact solutions,” Rosen says. A truly preventive strategy, he adds, is not just patient-to-patient, but a philosophical decision we have to make as a country and as a society as it relates to long-term outcomes.

Rosen made the philosophical switch after 20 years of practice. The Whole Child Center, a four-physician practice with a pediatric nurse practitioner and clinical coordinator, combines traditional adult therapies with integrative approaches to nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness.

Similarly, the practice combines traditional pediatric care services with services such as nutritional counseling, acupuncture, clinical homeopathy, nutritional counseling, yoga, Reiki, infant massage, mind/body therapies (biofeedback, hypnosis, and guided imagery), and prenatal and preconception consultations.

The practice was built to help facilitate and enhance the relationship between its doctors, staff, and patients. Rosen, with Heather Jeney, MD; Stacey M. Linwood, MD; Penelope Gay Sheely, MD; Rebecca Ganz, CPNP; and Karen Overgaard are trying model healthy lifestyles early on for children and families.

It’s also about engaging patients. “We want to give patients a voice, empower them whether it’s using mobile technological solutions or access to their healthcare through a patient portal and guide them through solutions that promote wellness and health prevention,” Rosen says. During a typical 30-minute encounter, 25 minutes are spent with the physician. He calls it quality time. “We are trying to develop relationships over time, and that is exactly how communication develops, and it’s crucial to how we keep kids healthy,” he says.

The approach, Rosen adds, is really about engaging patients in many different ways. Physicians are educators, and their tools include not only a stethoscope but also patient health apps, lab reports, motivational communication, group meetings within the practice, classes, and special events. The technological tools available today to facilitate that communication are helping exponentially, Rosen adds.

Along with being considered one of the first green pediatric practices in the United States, the Whole Child Center was also designed to use technology to facilitate communication among patients and staff. Close to 70% of the practice’s patients now use a patient portal (athenahealth), Rosen says. “Our phone call volume dropped in half, and it has not just been patients calling about health issues. That’s included laboratory notifications, appointment requests and those kind of things.”

The center’s practitioners decided to keep computers out of the examination rooms because they do not want to distract from the encounter, but Rosen uses an iPad to facilitate education. He enters his notes into the electronic health record following the encounter. This approach to medicine has not only helped him improve adherence rates, but it has changed some of his patients’ lives and habits.

“When people are engaged and feel control over their own health, they get excited-even more so than just being compliant, they are vested (in their own health).” And that’s what is really going to change healthcare. 

The approach to medicine is really about engaging patients in many new ways. The Whole Child Center aims to teach patients how to remain healthy through visits, classes and even events.