Reliable Integrative Care Access Outside Doctor's office - RN's Perspective

By: Charanpreet (Char) Walia - Registered Nurse/Public Health Nurse, San Diego, CA

Healthcare Decisions to Improve Quality of Life  

Having worked in public health settings with diverse patient populations in home health settings for over 15 years, the two most critical factors that influence a patient’s care decision and journey are trust and access to the reliable tools and resources. This has been a consistent pattern even in my hospital experience as an oncology nurse prior to my public health nursing experience. Any patient going through a chronic illness is overwhelmed with information and an urgency to make timely decisions that will impact the prognosis of their condition and quality of life. Level of stress in such situations further complicates this process and having a trusted partner always leads to better decision-making and outcomes.

Whether it is family dealing with the pandemic and looking for Immune Support, a mother caring for a toddler with Cerebral Palsy or someone caring for their loved one with Prostate Cancer, the common goal in all these wellness journeys is to not leave any stone unturned to improve the patient's quality of life. While a small fraction of patients are successful in navigating the web of information about their condition and choices available within standard of care and complementary medicine, in a majority of cases, a patient seeks a trusted partner in a family member, a social worker, a community forum, or their medical provider to navigate these challenging times. This is where the Public Health programs are bridging the gap for the patients, especially the economically disadvantaged sections of our society.

Challenges to Find Quality of Life Healthcare Resources

The trust a patient seeks is partly subjective, based on the relationship a patient has with their caregiving team and partly objective, based on the reliable quality of information and services available to them or their caregiver. Access to trusted information and tools has always been a challenge especially with the lack of integrative care training for the standard of care professionals and a big gap to accomplish value-based care.

A common concern I hear from my patients seeking natural medicines is, “which supplement should I pick?” “Are they all the same?” Should they go for the “most advertised product” or the “one with the most reviews” even though their individual situation might be different due to their co-morbidities and specific medications. Additionally, lack of support from their providers is a major obstacle and patients end up relying on their caregiving support or “Google” to find “safe and effective” supplements.

A typical response when a patient seeks guidance on supplements or mind-body therapies from a standard of care doctor is, “there is not enough evidence” or even “ I don’t believe in complementary therapies” in some extreme cases. In many cases, the patients end up making these decisions based on self-research or advice from community forums of patients in a similar journey. However, even if the patient received good advice on a supplement or botanical that may help, the following essential questions still need to be covered:

  1. What dosage should I consider that is backed by evidence to be effective for me?
  2. How can I ensure that this new supplement will not interact with my existing medications? 
  3. Is the brand or product that was promoted on the forum, really the best product for me?

Wellkasa: Simple & Reliable Integrative Care Resource

The team behind Wellkasa has seen these challenges from many angles. The healthcare professionals like myself, have seen the harm some of these less informed decisions can cause to the vulnerable patients dealing with chronic conditions and complex co-morbidities. The Wellkasa team members who have been patients or caregivers, on the other hand, have felt the frustration of not finding support from their standard of care professionals on "non-pharma" options that support their quality of life needs.  

Under the umbrella of Wellkasa, the healthcare professionals, experienced patients and caregivers joined forces in 2021 to create the Wellkasa Seal of Trust, a symbol of reliable and trustworthy integrative care for both patients and healthcare professionals. 

Wellkasa Seal of Trust 

Wellkasa Seal of Trust stands for:

  1.  Evidence-Informed Integrative or Complementary Care: Each therapy recommended has been researched for scientific evidence linked to the benefit. That evidence is easily accessible to the public on Wellkasa Research Engine. In addition to the research evidence, if the therapy is in a Wellkasa wellness plan, it has been designed by a Doctor who has experience with the therapy in a clinical setting. 
  2. Effective Dosage: In addition to the evidence on benefits and doctor expertise, the product recommended has the optimal dosage to deliver the therapeutic benefit.
  3. Professional Grade: Highly curated, highest quality products picked in an unbiased manner from approximately 300 highest quality professional grade brands in North America. 

In addition to developing the Wellkasa Seal of TrustWellkasa is now in the process of enabling the standard of care professionals with Wellkasa Rx - a healthcare professional tool that gives professionals quick access to research on almost 1,500 complementary therapies and a supplement-Rx drug interaction checker. This will help these professionals better educate their patients and jointly make quality of life care decisions, so that the patient doesn't have to seek another appointment or seek care on a community forum.

So, these days, when I visit a patient who asks me about a therapy they just heard from a friend, I check Wellkabinet on my mobile and am able to educate them about the research evidence and potential drug interactions.