Healthcare Setting

What Is ‘Complete Care’ in a Healthcare Setting? It Depends


Could healthcare terms be any more confusing than they already are? I ask because I recently visited the website of a Utah medical clinic that describes itself as offering ‘complete care’. I wanted to know what that meant. So I looked it up only to discover that ‘complete care’ has multiple meanings. It really depends on who you ask.

I count myself among the millions who do not really understand most of the terminology used in the healthcare sector. You could hand me a copy of your health insurance policy in hopes of me reading, understanding, and explaining it to you, but you would be waiting for a long time. Most times, when I go see my GP, I have to insist that she speak to me in plain English.

I don’t think the issue is mere semantics. When definitions are not clearly understood, bad things can happen. And when different people define terms in different ways, problems can be compounded. To illustrate the point, let us look at just three definitions of ‘complete care’.

1. Holistic Care

Research tells me that the most common definition of complete care refers to holistic patient care. That is the definition most closely aligned to the website I was visiting. That website, operated by KindlyMD, suggests that patients are treated holistically with a combination of plant-based medicines, medication management, and psychotherapy.

The idea behind holistic care is to treat the whole person rather than just a single condition. Take chronic pain. While it is most noted for its physical manifestations, chronic pain is also linked to anxiety and depression. Likewise, the physical and mental aspects of chronic pain can completely crush a person’s spirit. Complete care under a holistic mindset seeks to treat all three: body, mind, and spirit.

2. Integrated Care

The second definition of complete care, while not as popular as the first, is still common enough that many people within the healthcare sector recognize it. It is care offered at an integrated care facility. In other words, you might have a single facility offering primary care, urgent care, diagnostic testing, rehab services, and even a limited selection of medical specialties.

The facility is described as offering complete care because most patients can access all the services they need under one roof. A patient might visit his primary care physician on one end of the campus before heading down to the other end for an MRI. Then he stops by the orthopedist’s office to discuss the test results.

3. Managed Care

The third and final definition of complete care is not used as often. It refers to a type of managed care associated with Medicare Advantage insurance plans. Medicare Advantage is a supplemental form of Medicare that combines doctor visits, prescription drugs, and hospital stays under a single plan.

This type of managed care is often referred to as complete care by the government agencies administering their respective programs. For example, the Sunshine State refers to its managed care plan as Florida Complete Care.

If I had to choose among the three as the standard definition for complete care, my choice would be the first definition: holistic care. Holistic medicine seems to be the closest thing to ‘complete’ compared to the other two definitions. Not only that, but I am also a big believer in the holistic approach.

At any rate, my example clearly demonstrates how medical terms and differing definitions create confusion. I wish we could just standardize healthcare vocabulary using simple English words everybody understands. That would make life so much easier. Will it ever happen? Probably not.

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