Naturopathy as a model of prevention-oriented, patient-centered primary care: A disruptive innovation in health care

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Medicina (Lithuania), 2019, 55 (9)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Background and Objective: The concept of a “disruptive innovation,” recently extended to health care, refers to an emerging technology that represents a new market force combined with a new value system, that eventually displaces some, or all, of the current leading “stakeholders, products and strategic alliances.” Naturopathy is a distinct system of traditional and complementary medicine recognized by theWorld Health Organization (WHO), emerging as a model of primary care. The objective here is to describe Naturopathy in the context of the criteria for a disruptive innovation. Methods: An evidence synthesis was conducted to evaluate Naturopathy as a potentially disruptive technology according to the defining criteria established by leading economists and health technology experts: (1) The innovation must cure disease; (2) must transform the way medicine is practiced; or (3) have an impact that could be disruptive or sustaining, depending on how it is integrated into the current healthcare marketplace. Results: The fact that Naturopathy de-emphasizes prescription drug and surgical interventions in favor of nonpharmacological health promotion and self-care could disrupt the present economic model that fuels health care costs. The patient-centered orientation of Naturopathy, combined with an emphasis on preventive behaviors and popular complementary and integrative health services like natural products, mind and body therapies, and other therapies not widely represented in current primary care models increase the likelihood for disruption. Conclusions: Because of its patient-centered approach and emphasis on prevention, naturopathy may disrupt or remain a durable presence in healthcare delivery depending on policymaker decisions.
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