John Weeks June 2013 Integrator Round-up covering the topic of Integratve Health care economics & business.

Two resources published on economic evaluation of complementary and integrative medicine

In the journal’s March 2013 issue, Global Advances in Health and Medicine features a primer from RAND researcher Patrica Herman, ND, PhD on evaluating the economics of complementary and integrative medicine. The quick, publicly available read is adapted from Herman’s book on the subject that was published via the Samueli Institute. Two other naturopathic doctors, Sterah Tais, ND and Erica Oberg, ND, MPH have published a separate primer entitled The Economic Evaluation of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, via the Natural Medicine Journal, official journal of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. The Tais-Oberg piece looks at economics in a list of specific conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, fibromyalgia and more. 


Jill’s List merges with MindBody, Jill Shah to remain with combined firm

The Boston-based Jill’s List has been acquired by San Luis Obisbo, California Mindbody. Jill Shah, who built her firm with its sterling advisory board of integrative medicine and health leaders (plus Jesse Dylan, Bob’s son), will continue as senior VP and head of a Boston Office. The Jill’s List business model has included a fee for supporting provider referrals. More recently, charges to employers for access to its practitioner list have been a focus. Says Mindbody founder and CEO Rick Stollmeyer: “Our thesis is all about the convergence of healthcare and wellness.” Jill’s List is the company’s second acquisition. This release on the Mindbody site states that the firm is the “largest provider of online business management software in the health and wellness industry.” Following the acquisition, the business is expected to be rebranded as the Mindbody Wellness Network. The fast-growing Mindbody presently boasts that its business software supports services of “300,000 health and wellness professionals at 24,000 locations in 81 countries.” Prior to the acquisition, the business were mainly spas, fitness companies and health and beauty businesses.

Comment: Shah has walked a challenging path with Jill’s list. Her work has been fueled on one side by a realization that referrals and deepening integration are individualized and relationship-based while, on the other, successful business models require large numbers. Curious what will happen next with this jump into huge levels of connectivity. Shah’s combination of mission and business savvy will alone be valuable to Stollmeyer and his team.


American Specialty Health subsidiary gains full accreditation of disease management program

Healthyroads, a subsidiary of the dominant complementary and alternative medicine managed care company, American Specialty Health, announced on June 3, 2013 that its Population Health Program has received full disease management accreditation from URAC, a health care accrediting organization. The release notes that this program, launched in 2011, combines with its existing URAC-accredited comprehensive wellness (lifestyle) program to provide services such as smoking cessation, exercise and nutrition, and chronic condition management programs  for health plans, employer groups and members. Methods include a custom web portal, trackers, educational information, e-coaching classes and telephonic coaching to reduce health risks. Douglas Metz, DC, chief health services officer of Healthyroads is quoted as reassuring clients that accreditation assures clients that ASH has “infrastructure, processes and commitment necessary to promote high-quality health care.” The firm offers services to over 5.7-million members annually.

Comment: The inclusion of news from ASH will mainly be of interest to those who followed the CAM network wars of the late 1990s when ASH, led by George DeVries, rose from its California managed chiropractic base to national dominance. Via a step-wise processes, including the latest accreditation, the firm has grown to a $183-million in 2011 and over $200-million today. Credit the paradoxical outcomes of the firm – awarded for its employee programs while despised by many practitioners for its CAM management business practices – for seeing early the opportunities to move into prevention, health promotion, employee wellness and, increasingly, disease management. An overview of DeVries’ career is provided in this release on a recent Lifetime Achievement Award he received.