Dean Ornish, MD links with Healthways to promote his pioneering integrative heart health programDean Ornish, MD, whose research showed that an integrative health program could reverse atherosclerosis, has inked a deal with Healthways to promote the program internationally. A July

Dean Ornish, MD links with Healthways to promote his pioneering integrative heart health program

Dean Ornish, MD, whose research showed that an integrative health program could reverse atherosclerosis, has inked a deal with Healthways to promote the program internationally. A July 23, 2013 release announced that the “largest global provider of well-being solutions” has exclusive rights to promoting the Ornish program. In January 2011, Medicare began covering “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease” under a new benefit category, “intensive cardiac rehabilitation.” This was the first time that Medicare covered an integrative medicine program. The release states that “Ornish’s programs, combined with Healthways’ well-being improvement platform, will enable the Company to comprehensively leverage proven lifestyle behavior change programs that serve the purpose of preventing, treating and reversing certain chronic diseases.

Comment: Few will recall that Ornish once inked another such deal, a dozen years ago, with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield via its visionary health a wellness leader, Anna Silberman and its subsidiary Lifestyle Advantage.  Highmark believed then, as did Ornish, that Medicare coverage of the program was just around the corner, when it was yet years away. The question of the day will remain whether hospitals will rapidly embrace a program that, if successful, will run down revenues on one of their major income producers: heart disease. Silberman found a discouragingly few parties interested a decade ago. Healthways boasts the relationship prominently on its site.

Health creation? Former CEO of a Henry Ford Hospital takes over as CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America

The former CEO of Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, MI, Gerard Van Grinsven, is now the CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Van Grinsven joined Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System in 2006 to oversee the launch of the West Bloomfield hospital, which opened in March 2009. Before that, he was an executive with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co, the customer-focus of which led him to bring alternative treatments into the hospital. He succeeds Stephen Bonner, president and CEO since 1999, who will assume the new role of executive chairman. CTCA pioneered inpatient integrative treatment via a program that began with nutritional interventions and expanded substantially after the firm began contracting with naturopathic physicians. Timothy Birdsall, ND has been the lead integrative medicine leader for CTCA.

Comment: Integrator columnist Taylor Walsh forwarded this news with this note: “If you are not familiar with Van Grinsven, you will want to view the video of him explaining how he created — wait for it — a health-creating hospital in West Bloomfield, which opened in 2009. It is astonishing and inspiring. Said he in 2010: ‘We said that we will be a community center for well being. What does that mean? It means we create an environment that healthy people actually want to come to our facility and partake in activities and programs that help them stay healthy.’ He forced alt med therapies into the wellness center because ‘my customers wanted it.’ If he is half as inventive with CTCA as he was with West Bloomfield, at worst the paradigm will be turned upside down.” The You Tube video is here.

RAND group reports expert panel recommendations on economic analysis of complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine

Well-known health services researchers on complementary and integrative medicine Ian Coulter, PhD and Patricia Herman, PhD, ND, have published a paper entitled Economic analysis of complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine (CAIM): considerations raised by an expert panel. The paper reflects findings of an international panel convened by the RAND Corporation, with which they are associated, in 2011. The team identified 7 “major themes that are particularly salient for determining the economics of CAIM.” These include clarifying the target audience, and looking at overall outcomes and costs rather than disease-specific outcomes and costs, given the whole person approach. They conclude: “The business case for CAIM depends on economic analysis and standard methods for conducting such economic evaluations exist. The challenge for CAIM lies in appropriately applying these methods. The deliberations of this panel provide a list of factors to be considered in meeting that challenge.” The PDF is here.

Comment: This follows Herman’s more substantial work, via the Samueli Institute, Evaluating the Economics of Complementary and Integrative Medicine.  

Medical tourism in Portland, Oregon? Tribune says “Global patients, wellness tourists seek out city’s naturopaths”

In a twist on a global theme, the Portland Tribune has published a feature entitled “Need treatment, will travel: Global patients, wellness tourists seek out city’s naturopaths.”  The piece focuses on the specialized treatment in naturopathic cardiology provided through the Center for Natural Medicine, founded 30 years ago by Martin Milner, MA, LMT, ND. It then turns to specialized treatments by other physicians such as “fecal transplant” and hormone therapy. The author of Medical Tourism, John Connell is quoted: “Maybe the ultimate phase in medical tourism will be when medical tourists come from places like India for naturopathic medicine in the U.S.”

Comment: Notably, as reported in the July 2013 Integrator Round-up, Milner’s clinic, a teaching center affiliated with National College of Natural Medicine, was recognized as a Tier II medical home in that state.