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  • Dr Kristina Conner

What level of natural healthcare is right for me?

# 3/4 of our Comprehensive Cost Guide to Natural Medical Care

Last time, I discussed the first major factor to determine the length and cost of care: how much healthcare the individual needs. The second major factor to obtain an estimate about length and cost of care is how much assistance one needs to get their proper level of healthcare. The level of assistance required depends on the stage of care one is currently in. So next, we'll go over the three stages to care: assessment & active care, ongoing care, and maintenance care, and what to expect at each stage.

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123 Free photo 2803960 © Brent Hathaway -

Initially, almost everyone needs a higher level of care, to assess where they are in the balance above, then to educate them on what they need, and likely provide direct treatments to resolve the current condition and strengthen the foundation. Active care usually takes several weeks for a new issue and several months for a chronic issue, assuming the patient has done nothing already. The more work the patient has done before or does during active care, & their response to treatment, can accelerate or lengthen the active care stage. The goal of active is usually pretty clear—significant progress on an acute issue. The role of the healthcare provider is usually clear during active care as well—most steps require the practitioner to be involved. Conventional medicine usually does active care very well, especially for new, moderately complex issues.

The second stage of care is ongoing care. The goal with ongoing care is to completely resolve the issue and prevent its recurrence or further damage. This means underlying issues need to be addressed. Time needed for ongoing care is less predictable, since other factors play an important role: patient’s knowledge, abilities, and willingness to make changes to address underlying issues, patient’s response to treatment, and their current and ongoing life circumstances. Here the role of the practitioner is more variable as well. The more engaged the patient can be in their care, and the more control they have over the circumstances that are obstacles to their health, the less they will need a practitioner and the less time the ongoing care stage will take. Note that completing the ongoing care stage does not mean that a person is absent of health issues. There may still be chronic conditions, but they are managed well by the end of this stage. The individual has achieved balance given all of their circumstances. Both conventional and complementary medicine can play a role in this stage, but conventional medicine does often have less options for types of care and depth of care that it can offer in this stage.

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The final stage of care is maintenance/ preventative care. The goals here are to strengthen the constitution, engage in health practices, and reduce everyday stresses to maintain health balance. Essentially, this is the rest of the patient’s life. Although new circumstances may place the individual back in active or ongoing care, this is default once those new circumstances are addressed. The role of the healthcare practitioner here is to provide guidance and therapies that build health. Most likely, care will be needed less often than in active or ongoing care, but this is largely determined by chronic health issues if present, constitution, and the continuing level of engagement and control that the patient has over their life circumstances. Also during this stage, the practitioner’s role is to provide maintenance care (like yearly exams) and be on “standby” in case new circumstances or conditions do arise. In this stage, again both conventional and complementary medicine can play a role. The major difference is that complementary medicine has numerous therapies that actively build health—such as bodywork, acupuncture, homeopathy, energy medicines, and hydrotherapy—which are not a part of conventional care.

Since most of us are not trained to think in these stages, it’s easy to have vague or inaccurate expectations of what should occur at each point. But once you have an understanding of what constitutes each stage, an idea about the type and amount of care needed should be clearer. For instance, conventional medical care can work well for active care. But during ongoing care a different approach is needed. Having more conventional medicine isn’t better here, since complementary/natural medicine provides therapies just not available if one only uses conventional care. Understanding the 3 stages also gives much insight into how much healthcare utilization is needed. During maintenance care, for instance, one would expect to see natural medicine provider(s) regularly to build health as well as being personally heavily engaged in healthy lifestyle habits, but seeing conventional healthcare providers less often.

Watch for our last article of this series, where we’ll go over a real life example and some final tips to help you find a Natural Medicine practitioner.