In the past five years, I have been to more doctor’s appointments than I can count. From multiple rounds of IVF to being diagnosed with a thyroid autoimmune condition to several (unsuccessful) attempts at getting to the bottom of my PCOS, I’ve seen my fair share of healthcare professionals in my 35 years. As a woman with various health concerns, I recognize that getting multiple medical opinions is a necessary evil in our current healthcare climate — but integrated healthcare shouldn’t be this hard.

About a year ago, fed up after 5 unsuccessful embryo transfers with no baby — or answers — to show for it, I sought out the root cause of my PCOS, thyroid disease, and infertility. I assembled a care team consisting of a primary care practitioner, an OB/GYN, and an endocrinologist. I hired a Registered Dietitian to help fill in any nutritional gaps and started going to acupuncture once a week. I toned down my exercise routine to incorporate low-impact movements and, begrudgingly, committed to eating breakfast before drinking my morning coffee. 

I was all in, with my only requirements being that my providers offered a listening ear, a compassionate bedside manner, and a genuine willingness to help me figure out my body. And while I have to say these women completely knocked it out of the park, one problem remained: they often had varying, sometimes even conflicting, opinions — leaving me to put the pieces of the puzzle together on little more than my own gut instinct. 

Navigating the mental load of conflicting health information 

For my autoimmune disorder, I was advised to go gluten-free to help reduce inflammation, and then — days later — informed that there’s little to no evidence to support a gluten-free diet for Hashimoto’s. For PCOS, I was prescribed Metformin in hopes of regulating my menstrual cycle, only for it to be confirmed shortly after that I’m not insulin resistant. Add in health influencers on social media claiming that all I have to do is XYZ to “reverse” my chronic conditions, and I’m surprised I still have my sanity. It’s no wonder up to 70% of PCOS cases remain undiagnosed, and more than half of people with autoimmune diseases experience mental health conditions

Let me be clear: it’s not that these providers were misguided in their recommendations. It’s just that being a woman with health concerns in 2024 can be overwhelming as it is, without the varying suggestions (and seemingly endless prescriptions and supplements). And with so much misinformation and disinformation on the Internet, it can be incredibly difficult to identify “the next right thing” to do when it comes to your health and wellness. 

I’m aware that I’m privileged to have access to quality healthcare in this country. I also work in women’s health and often say that “I know too much” — but even knowing how to self-advocate, I’ve had to carve out my own unique path on this journey. It’s time to hold our healthcare system to a higher standard so the burden doesn’t fall so squarely on the patient. It’s time systems are put in place for integrated care that prioritizes patient health and wellbeing and well care; not sick care. It’s time healthcare becomes proactive, not reactive. 

Here are four actionable things the healthcare system and patients can do to help fix a broken healthcare system: 

  1. First, healthcare providers and systems should prioritize interoperable technology so doctors and other healthcare professionals can better collaborate. 

  2. Second, patients need to be more proactive about accessing their medical records. You can request your records any time you need them, and companies like OneRecord can help you consolidate all of your health data to share with healthcare professionals you trust. 

  3. Third, employees must insist on well-care add-ons like mental health and acupuncture, so more employers will cover these services. For too long, these benefits have been seen as “nice to have,” when in reality, many help prevent illnesses that burden not only the patient but the overarching healthcare system.  

  4. Lastly, while startups like Kindbody, Tia, and Millie prioritize women’s whole-body care, it’s time that more established women’s healthcare practices begin integrating holistic wellness offerings like nutrition counseling and menopause support. 

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At Rescripted, we’re pushing for a world where women leave every doctor’s appointment with more answers than questions. We’ve created a platform of science-backed content to give women the information they need, so they can powerfully advocate for solutions to their most-burning women’s health concerns. It’s high time for a healthcare system where traditional medicine and holistic modalities work in harmony — a world in which women have the knowledge and self-confidence to take a leading role in their self-care. 

From first period to menopause, women’s bodies are complex, and clinical research on women’s health has only just begun to catch up. We desperately need integrated women’s healthcare — at scale — that starts with the whole person, not ends with it. Our lives quite literally depend on it. 

A special thanks to Abby Mercado, my co-founder, for her contributions to this piece.

Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Rescripted