The integrated holistic healthcare challenge

As part of my MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, I’m exploring the business support and communication services healthcare practitioners will need if we are to make integrated, holistic healthcare accessible and affordable for all.

This might sound like the type of elite healthcare only available to sports professionals.  Many will say it’s not possible to make this affordable and accessible to a wider market.

I believe we can and we should.  Fundamentally, it’s about putting the holistic health of each individual patient ahead of each practitioners focus on their field of expertise.

Why do this?

From my own experience, as a paying client to various healthcare professionals  (acupuncture, chiropractic, podiatry, sports massage) my natural instinct has been to want them to work together as a team with me.

Because I have been so determined to understand the cause for my chronic pain, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and understanding the problem.

I know more about the cause of my pain than many of the practitioners I see.  This is both a blessing and curse.  Experience has taught me that because of my knowledge a lot of practitioners don’t know how to deal with me.

With those that are willing, I’m trying to get them to work together, and this is proving far more of a struggle that I would like.

I believe that a practitioner’s greatest source of learning is the patients they treat.  If practitioners want the business security that will come from recommendations by their patients who have regained good health, then they need to explore the advantages of collaborating with their peers and colleagues with other specialisms / skills.

The challenge

To make patient-centred integrated healthcare affordable and accessible, practitioners will need access to support, guidance and inspiration in these two areas:

  • innovative and flexible business models / structures, and web-based support systems
  • creating and sharing their own and their patients experiences and insights, through the use of online content and social media

Through this enterprise research project, I’ll be exploring the validity of different services to support practitioners through these changes, such as:

  1. business support
    1. consultancy business advice service
    2. business mentoring and support
  2. communication and engagement services
    1. social media training
    2. video creation service (patient testimonals / educational)
    3. speaker / consultant
    4. event organisation (bringing integrated healthcare professionals and the public together to learn and share)

What I need to find out

1) Who’s leading the way in the industry?

Two healthcare practices I know of are challenging some of these barriers, and their results are impressive.

I want to explore and understand their work, the challenges they faced and the lessons they are learning in the process.

2) What constitutes integrated, holistic healthcare?

I need to explore what integrated holistic healthcare means. What basic key goals and products, services and treatments could be used as a model for an affordable integrated healthcare service?

From an orthodox medicine perspective, I’ll be researching the current NHS efforts to adopt an integrated approach to healthcare.

From an alternative healthcare perspective, I will use my existing contacts, attend events (such as the Mind Body Soul weekend in Cheltenham in October 2014) and use social media to find and interview practitioners from a range of fields to gain insights into what they do, and the challenges they perceive.

Already complete: Interview with Andrew Hill, owner of family run Sunshine Health shop in Stroud, Gloucestershire

3) What do we mean by affordable and accessible?

How can we make it easy to access healthcare treatments? Can we build in flexibility to access from more than one place, such as individual healthcare clinics, gyms, surgeries etc?  Should there by tie-ups with fitness groups or organisations?  For this I’ll be researching and interviewing existing practitioners in a range of different business model settings, to understand the challenges in making access to healthcare easier and more affordable:

4) Making use of technology to engage, learn and share

Finally,  I want to explore the use of feedback and visualisation tools as a key learning and education tool for patients and practitioners.  Services such as Biofeedback, Live blood analysis, aura interpretations and gaitscan / motion capture technology for biomechanics are now more affordable than ever, and I want to explore the commercial viability of including them as part of an affordable integrated healthcare package.


Fundamentally, I believe both patients and practitioners want to see this kind of change, but are hampered by business, professional, and communication obstacles.

I want to explore the challenges and opportunities in getting healthcare practitioners working together collaboratively, sharing their skills and expertise, and forming and re-forming business alliances with other practitioners, so that they are able to place their patients holistic health and goals at the centre of their work.

If you’re interested in taking part in this research, happening in November and December 2014, do get in touch.