In Depth: A Conversation with HonorHealth Integrative Medicine Clinic
(From left: Shad Marvasti, MD, Melinda Atienza, DO, Shalini Singh-Karnik, MD, and Denise Coventry, MS)
Arizona Physician sat down with HonorHealth Integrative Medicine Clinic's Integrative Medicine Medical Director Shad Marvasti, MD, MPH (who is highlighted in a separate article), physicians Melinda Atienza, DO, Shalini Singh-Karnik, MD, and Denise Coventry, MS, RD, to discuss the growth of their clinic, connections within the network, and impacts on patients.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Why did HonorHealth launch an Integrative Medicine clinic?
DR. ATIENZA: At HonorHealth, our mission is to improve the health and well-being of those we serve. There are times when patients are dealing with chronic health issues that aren’t easily managed by conventional treatments and medication. Integrative medicine gives us another path to provide relief to our patients through a combination of conventional medicine and alternative therapies. Through the vision and support of our leadership and the HonorHealth Foundation, the HonorHealth Integrative Medicine group is making a real difference for our patients.
HonorHealth Integrative Medicine Clinic by the Numbers:
Opened in November 2021
1 Registered Dietician
1 Licensed Acupuncturist
1 Behavioral Health Specialist
1 Massage Therapist
4 Additional Staff
Integrative medicine, lifestyle medicine
Additional services include:
Complementary (alternative) therapies, health optimization and longevity, Tai Chi & Yoga classes, in-house lab with phlebotomist
Visit HonorHealth IMC at honorhealth.com
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Please describe a typical new patient. Do they usually present with acute or chronic conditions?
DR. MARVASTI: Our new patients include someone who is seeking to optimize their health and has a desire to take an active role in staying well throughout their life. We also see individuals with chronic symptoms or diseases like diabetes or heart disease that want to explore ways they can prevent, treat or reverse their conditions with diet, lifestyle and complementary approaches. Some of them have tried everything else with limited results or they are experiencing serious side effects from the treatments prescribed and want to look for non-pharmacological approaches to addressing conditions like blood pressure or cholesterol. We dig deeper to find natural approaches and less invasive treatments whenever possible to blend traditional medicine with safe, evidence-based alternative medicine to reinforce the body’s innate ability to heal itself. We are not looking to eliminate traditional treatments but rather find a combination that works together to help our patients feel better. As a result, we do a fair amount of deprescribing medications as the patient makes lasting changes in their lifestyle and diet to control their medical conditions.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Which services does your team offer to patients?
MS. COVENTRY: We want you to live a long and healthy life and we help you achieve that goal by using an evidence-based, holistic approach to your care. Our team partners with you to improve your overall wellness and provide relief from chronic conditions.
We listen to your concerns and take a comprehensive look at all aspects of your life. Together, our team of doctors, dieticians, acupuncturists, health coaches and massage therapists will work together to provide you with a care plan that incorporates nutrition, behavioral health, acupuncture, massage, clinical hypnosis, tai chi, shared medical visits, yoga, and evidence-based supplements
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: What response have you received from patients since opening the clinic?
DR. ATIENZA: Our patients are relieved after finding us. They feel heard and they have hope. They understand that our goal is working towards improving their overall health and wellness, while focusing on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management. Integrative medicine treats the whole person, not just the symptoms or disease. We take into consideration all the factors that influence your health, it’s not just a pill for an ill. To be truly healthy, we must consider physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: What response have you received from colleagues?
DR. ATIENZA: The response from our colleagues has been very good and as they learn more about what we are doing and see the results that we are producing, they are happy to refer their patients to us. While this concept is relatively new, in the end, we are all trying to achieve the same thing which is helping our patients feel better.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Describe the collaboration with other physicians who refer patients to the team? Are there roadblocks?
DR. SINGH-KARNIK: As word of the work and results that we are achieving with our patients,
we are hearing from more and more physicians who are looking for answers for their clients. Some still have reservations about integrative medicine, but just like with our patients, once we explain our philosophy and how we will work with them to help their patients, they are generally excited.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: On average, how much time do spend with patients during the initial visit and follow-ups?
MS. COVENTRY: For our new patients, the initial visit will run one hour long, and each follow up visit is 30 minutes.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Why does having more time with a patient matter?
DR. SINGH-KARNIK: The additional time that we get to have with our patients allows us to ask more questions so that we can get a more complete understanding of where they are in their medical journey and how we can help. Integrative medicine is medicine made especially for our patients and every patient is different, so we focus our care on them and their needs.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Why has patient demand for integrative medicine increased?
DR. ATIENZA: I think that patient demand for integrative medicine has increased for a couple of reasons. More and more research is being done and published on the benefits of integrative medicine and one of those studies suggested that 80% of chronic diseases can be addressed by lifestyle medicine which aims to change personal habits and behaviors to optimize health and prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic diseases. The other big driver is the fact that more and more patients are looking for a whole health approach which includes diet and lifestyle prescriptions instead of simply relying on medications or surgery to treat their medical issues.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: Have insurance carriers been covering your services?
DR. SINGH-KARNIK: Most insurance payers cover the cost of visits with the physicians. We continue to work with the insurance companies to show the benefits and results that we are seeing, which in the end provide the best care and outcomes for our patients.
ARIZONA PHYSICIAN: What does the future hold for integrative medicine?
DR. ATIENZA: I think the future is great. Almost anyone can benefit from an integrative medicine consultation because we focus on prevention by empowering our patients with evidence-based approaches to staying healthy and maintaining wellness throughout their lives. We continue to see more and more interest from healthcare professionals and the community who are looking for another option to help them live their best lives.