Principle Seven: Personalized Care

As should be evident by now, the principles underlying Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting are not independent from one another, operating without interaction. The seventh principle is no different. It asserts the importance of approaching each patient as an individual. Patient care must be personalized in every way possible. Each person is a unique whole made by God. Their genetics, their health history, their desires, their lives… everything is unique. Treating patients as statistics, lumping them into broad diagnostic categories, will not bring about full restoration of health for God’s glory. Treating people as individuals has greater hope for such restoration.

In contrast, contemporary medical culture leaves little time for personalized care beyond placing each patient encountered into a “diagnostic box”. Even compassionate physicians who appreciate this principle of personalized care are overwhelmed by the system’s pressure and its built-in time constraints. In mainstream medicine, a “therapeutic protocol”, which has been prepared for all those in a given “diagnostic box”, is reflexively prescribed. Time swirls this “therapeutic protocol” around and around for a prescribed period in hopes of a “cure”. The provider peers into the box at the follow up visit hoping for good results. If good results are not to be seen in the box, the provider either tries another protocol concoction or has to decide that a different diagnostic box is necessary (i.e. wrong diagnosis at the first round). For the most part, today’s physicians are socialized to approach patient care in such a manner and our wider health system forces create a deep canyon of less personal care from which it is nearly impossible to climb out.

Ultimately the doctor plays games of statistics and “beat the clock”. He or she has studied populations of patients in school, learning that patients must be categorized into groups which then demand certain treatment protocols to be prescribed. These protocols “should” lead to success if the correct diagnostic box was chosen. Enough information must be gathered to estimate, by the odds of statistics, which box and protocol are appropriate for the patient sitting in front of them.

Simultaneously, doctors in the wider system must “beat the clock” in two ways. On one hand the provider must beat the daily office clock which adds another patient to the waiting list every 10 to 20 minutes throughout the day. If the patient before them does not reveal enough information in the allotted 15 minutes, the next patient must wait longer for their turn in the assembly line of care. This rush may either cut short the present patient’s visit, requiring “testing” to confirm the provider’s diagnostic guess and maybe several visits to continue the investigation. Questions that could have been answered with another 30 minutes of history and physical instead require blood tests and repeat visits just to uncover the diagnosis.

On the other hand, providers must beat the clock of the patient’s health. Repeat visits and testing which could have been avoided with more time in discussion delay patient’s restoration of health. Most of a diagnosis can be determined through a detailed history and physical. Some testing is often required, especially in mysterious cases, but the number of tests may be decreased by going beyond attempting rapid placing into diagnostic boxes. This saves both money and time waiting for restorative therapies to begin. The longer a workup takes due to multiple visits and multiple testing, the longer a patient suffers. Furthermore, waiting two to three months for a follow up visit in conventional medical settings delays relief of that suffering.

Personalized care only results from a system designed with time for properly digging into a patient’s individual life. If one wants to continue using the metaphor of placing patients into diagnostic boxes, the doctor must create a different and unique box for each patient encountered. This box, for you as a patient, must consider not only your age, your gender, your symptoms and your family history, but often your specific genetics, your lifestyle, your nutrition, your life’s toxin exposure, your stress level, your goals, your motivation to restore health, your family’s resources, your spiritual life, and more. Rather than a mainstream physician and the patient “getting to know” each other over 5 or 6 visits, the 1 ½ hour initial visit with Dr. Potter combined with the hour long follow up visit in 2 to 6 weeks (depending on what testing is needed to complete the initial evaluation) allows Dr. Potter to focus on you. Your treatment can be personalized. Rather than casting a wide net of testing to find a diagnosis, the time spent with the patient usually narrows the net of testing (saving a measure of both time and money) to only what is necessary for confirmation and therapy planning.

The approach at Sanctuary Medical requires time and attention. It also requires someone who has studied multiple areas in some detail – the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual aspects of man made in the image of God as well as the patient’s life relationships. Sanctuary provides time through longer visits and fewer patients per day. Besides additional time, Dr. Potter has lived and studied these areas of care so that he may provide this level of personalized care. Time and experience bring you more than a treatment protocol. They provide opportunity for personalized care unique for your health needs.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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