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Applying a Holistic Approach to GI Care

Welcome to the New Year! I am excited to share my journey with regard to incorporating a more holistic approach into my medical practice over the last nine years. Hello, my name is Dr. Liz Cruz. I am a Board Certified Gastroenterologist that has been practicing GI since 2003. I’ve had my own medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona since 2007 and have a patient panel of over 22,000 patients. Once I started my own practice, it gave me the luxury to practice the way I wanted to practice (obviously staying within standard of care). It’s crazy how much we are told as doctors how to practice medicine. Following this protocol and that protocol based on what the insurances will cover or what the pharmaceutical studies say is standard of care. I don’t know about you but I have noticed a huge shift in our patient panel over the last decade. There are a lot more people coming into our office with digestive issues. No matter how many tests I run most of those tests come back negative. I have many young people coming in presenting with the same issues I’m used to seeing in older people. I don’t like having to tell a 20-year-old they have to be on a PPI medicine for the rest of their life. Something was not right and I’m the kind of doctor that doesn’t do well with, “Sorry I can’t figure out what’s wrong with you, let’s just keep trying more and more medicine.”  

I decided back in 2008 to take matters into my own hands. I spent two years reading as much literature as I could on the body, the digestive system, detoxification, nutrition, the food industry, and the pharmaceutical industry just to name a few. Many of the things I learned were unfortunately not taught in medical school. I was blown away by what I learned, so much so that I felt compelled to offer a more holistic approach to my patients in conjunction with the same traditional GI care I was already offering.

By 2010 I had written a book, had a 12-week wellness program for my patients and began offering a line of digestive health supplements. I never pushed it on anyone, I just made sure patients were aware that if they were interested it was available. It was tough at first because I didn’t want my colleagues to think I was a quack. But once more people started learning about it, I found that I had more interest and referrals than I knew what to do with. People were being referred to me from all over the Phoenix Valley for a more holistic approach.

Now, nine years later I have written a total of four books, have an amazing following of not only patients but wellness clients as well, a podcast with thousands of listeners, a six week online home study program, and complete respect from my colleagues and peers. And why you ask? Because it works! On top of that, people are looking for a more holistic approach to getting better. In fact, people are looking so hard that we have clients who have GI doctors two hours from us that will make the drive to see us face-to-face in our office. We are even shipping our books and supplements all over the world.

I was asked to write this article to help my peers understand why a holistic approach to medicine is so important these days. The answer is because it’s our job to make people better. Not sure if you noticed but the medicines and the procedures and the surgeries aren’t cutting it. The reality is, people are getting sicker and sicker because of the food they are consuming, the weight they are gaining and the pharmaceuticals they are taking. It is clear as day for me now, and it didn’t take a double blind placebo study to prove it to me.

I have learned it from years and years of watching one patient and client after another miraculously get better because they started eating and drinking better with our guidance and started taking simple supplements to get their digestive system working properly. I have watched thousands of my patients get off of their digestive medicines only to get healthier and healthier. There is no gimmick, there is no hoax. Anyone who wants to get healthy and is committed to what we teach, can and will turn their life around.

As providers I think we all know what needs to happen to truly help our patients get well. But with the business of medicine these days, no one has time for it. It’s all about how many patients we can see and how fast we can see them. Make sure we’re documenting properly so we can get paid and make sure to go above and beyond with our documenting so we meet Meaningful Use criteria so we don’t get penalized financially. Honestly it’s exhausting and in my opinion has diverted our attention from real quality patient care.

One of the other benefits of having started the wellness side of our practice is the financial aspect. As we’ve experienced reimbursements decline like everyone else, what I’ve lost in practice revenue I’ve more than made up in wellness revenue. Insurance companies won’t cover the cost of supplements, books and online home study programs so our wellness business is cash pay. Our patients and clients are more than happy to invest in their health which has allowed us to be able to offer even more programs and services to them.

It’s truly a blessing that I’ve had an amazing team to help me implement my holistic approach. I’ve been able to work with thousands of patients from the wellness perspective while they still see their regular GIs and PCPs regularly. We’d love to share our story further and how we can help bring a more holistic approach to your practice and your patients. 

Here is to an amazingly happy and healthy 2019 for us all!  

Dr. Liz Cruz is a gastroenterologist, an author, and (most importantly) a parent of 4 children. A Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Cruz is widely praised for her all-natural, holistic approach to wellness and for effectively reducing the need for prescription medicine.

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