Ho Chi Min City is one of the base cities that I have spent time in over the last 5+ months of this research project. It was my refuge during the storms that racked the north cost of Vietnam earlier this year, my vacation spot when I wanted to get away from the north for a weekend, and it is home to our most successful research site from our project. Besides the great street food and the numerous roof-top bars with a spectacular view, HCMC has drive and innovation.
I am always glad to visit University of Medicine and Pharmacy (UPM) in HCMC because of their big ideas and their advanced understanding of Integrated Behavioral Health. Dr. An in UPM has been teaching Integrated Behavioral Health Concepts for over 10 years and continues to talk with a vigor about the advantages of breaking down silos, executing team-base care, and cross-educating providers. He is the founder of the family practice medicine model in Vietnam and continues to be a voice of influence in driving medicine toward prevention and integration. It is refreshing to sit in the conference room and listen to someone talk with the same passion on the same topics that I usually preach about. He makes his point with one story:
A person can have one problem, but three different symptoms and three different approaches to treat it. He sums up these three different approaches in one technique: Biopsychosocial medicine. The idea is that a person can have H Pylori, the bacterial infection that causes an ulcer, but they may request services for 3 different symptoms 1). Bio-I have stomach pains, 2). Psycho- I have a headache and dizziness, 3). Social- I have bad breath. The lesson from Dr. An is that if you do not have an integrated team, or at least a provider that is integrated minded, you may not realize the psycho-social symptoms of the bio issue.
While in HCMC my team also attended a one day conference where we received our first (of many more to come) conference publication! Nothing like seeing your hard work in print along with the talented works of Southeast Asia’s innovative healthcare providers.