What is the typical patient journey and an example of an Initial Consultation?
Every patient that comes to us for a Functional Medicine Assessment has a unique story. It is most common that the patient has been experiencing symptoms for many years. They have gone from physician to physician who has addressed the specific body part that was in their specialty, but no one has ever put the pieces of the puzzle together for them.
One of the most common reasons why a patient comes to see us for a Functional Medicine Assessment is because they are frustrated. They are looking for answers and are looking for a practitioner who is willing to listen to their entire story from the beginning. The patient starts the process by filling out a very comprehensive packet of information. We request all the tests that the patient has had done. We ask that the patient bring in their medications and supplements. This paperwork is requested back the week before the visit, if possible, so that the practitioner has ample time to review it in detail.
A Functional Medicine Matrix and Timeline are developed by the practitioner prior to the appointment. This is an extensive process. As the practitioner plots symptoms, medical problems, and life events on the timeline and matrix, the story unfolds, and we can typically start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Because the core of the Functional Medicine Matrix is Spiritual, Emotional and Mental, we may find that a life trauma which has provoked extreme anger may be at the core of the problem. Intervention, such as counseling with a therapist, may be one of the suggestions before true healing can occur. There are times when a patient does not want to hear that, and they would rather we order Functional Medicine Tests to further evaluate their microbiome. However, this may not ultimately address the root cause of the problem.
After the patient comes in for their initial meeting with one of our two Board Certified Functional Medicine Practitioners, the patient is given a starting point and plan of action to work on prior to Part II. Often supplement recommendations are made and modifications in the diet are outlined. During this visit, either Functional Medicine Diagnostic Testing is ordered, or the practitioner may want to wait until the patient works on the initial recommendations to see how the patient responds before the testing is done. If testing is ordered at Part I, it takes about three weeks to get the results back. The results are reviewed during Part II of the Functional Medicine assessment.
A supplement plan and diet are designed that are individualized and personal. Although most patients have a treatment plan by the end of Part II, there are times when the case is so complex that a third visit may be necessary to complete the plan. The practitioner will not know this until he/she delves deeper into the problems the patient faces.
An example of follow up sessions:
The time lapse between visit two and visit three, as well as the number of visits that are necessary to see success, vary greatly based on the extent of lifestyle changes needed, the supplement program, and the diet that the patient is placed on. The patient may need a great deal of support and help with this. If weight loss is a desired outcome, the visits may be more frequent, so their weight and Body Fat Analysis can be analyzed to determine progress toward goals. The patient is provided with encouragement and support every step of the way. The number of follow-up sessions needed varies.
Results are not guaranteed, and every situation is different. We try our best to provide a very comprehensive approach to the patient. We will often work together as a treatment team to get the expertise of other holistic practitioners in our wellness center, so the patient’s treatment plan is as thorough as possible.