While some hospitals like Hartford Hospital make it work regardless of location, not every hospital is ready to embrace integrative medicine. A successful program requires a physician champion to drive its efforts, and physicians haven't always been the first to embrace this type of care. Hospitals can struggle with building a referral network because physicians in the community aren't used to referring patients to holistic types of services. "Physicians coming out of school recognize the value in these integrative programs because it is part of their curriculum, but physicians close to retirement age may not be acquainted with holistic medicine," Corvino says.
Hospitals not ready to open a full-service integrative medicine program should at least add some holistic-style approaches that are inexpensive and easy to implement, Bauer recommends. A growing number of hospitals offer some type of alternative care, including guided imagery and meditation CDs, video on demand channels dedicated to relaxation and quiet music, and stress management classes.
"We sometimes forget there are a lot of good things in the mind-body realm that are inexpensive and can be implemented pretty easily and can have a pretty profound impact," Bauer says.
Hospitals thinking of adding alternative care to their service options should follow four main guidelines, says Henri Roca, medical director of Greenwich's Center for Integrative Medicine: