November 2011 John Weeks Integrator Round-up:  Cost & Business

NCCAM-funded Dartmouth researcher breaks down CAM market   

In a paper delivered at the Annual Research Meeting of AcademyHealth, Mathew Davis, MPH, DC reported useful data on the size of the CAM market and consumer spending. According to this article in Family Practice News, Davis found that:

  • visits to chiropractors fell from about 110 million in 2005 to just under 100 million in 2008
  • spending on CAM services increased from about $8 billion in 2002 to $8.6 billion in 2008
  • spending on CAM is concentrated in a minority of users, with about 25% accounting for 72% of spending
  • heavier spenders (those who spent $520-$10,000 in 2007) aren’t any sicker than light spenders (those who spent less than $87)
  • in 2007, the top 10% of users, accounting for almost half of expenditures, spent a mean of $2,392.

Davis also reported that for 2007: $165 million was spent on homeopathy, $271 million on naturopathy, $103 million on traditional healers, $19 million on ayurveda, $567 million on herbals and other nonvitamin supplements, $32 million on chelation, and $74 million on hypnosis. Overall, Davis reportedly concluded that CAM accounts for less than 1% of total health care spending in the U.S. and remains largely “remains a cottage industry.” (Thanks to Glenn Sabin for tipping me to this article.)

Bastyr University reports $136-million of economic impact in 2010  

An October 12, 2011 release from Bastyr University announced that a consultant to the multidisciplinary institution in natural health sciences generated $136-million of economic impact for Seattle-area community in 2010.  The report from Hebert Research examined economic activity in 5 areas: operations, investment projects, teaching clinic, spending by students and economic activity generated by local alumni. In the release, Bastyr president Daniel Church, PhD states: “We are proud that Bastyr University, which began over thirty years ago as a fledgling professional school with about 30 students, has experienced the type of growth reported in this important study.” Copies of the full report are available through Derek Wing:  

Comment: Brilliant move to commission this report. This is no homeopathic dose.


CHP Group offers concise resource on evidence, cost-effectiveness of CAM 

A 20-page resource entitled “Integrating Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine into the Healthcare System” is available as a PDF file from Portland, Oregon-based CHP Group. CHP Group uses the document in its outreach to prospective employer and insurer clients. CHPs manages networks of chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists and massage therapists. A key client is Kaiser Northwest Permanente. The referenced document, with 32 useful end-notes, seeks to make a case that “research has demonstrated the clinical effectiveness of many CAM interventions and recent studies have shown that CAM is cost-effective.” The firm, co-founded by medical director Chuck Simpson, DC and led by Michelle Hay, CEO, was named Carrier of the Year at the August 2011 meeting of the Oregon Association of Health Underwriters (OAHU) for “exceptional leadership in the health insurance industry.” 

Comment: While published in 2010, this CHP document may be useful to more than one Integrator reader.


Massage education and services firm Steiner Leisure purchases Cortiva Group 

On October 12, 2011, Steiner Leisure Limited announced an agreement for the acquisition of the assets of Cortiva Group. Cortiva was a venture-backed roll-up of seven of the nation’s most influential for-profit massage schools with 12 campuses in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington. Revenues in 2010 were approximately $24.6 million. Post-closing, Steiner will own and operate a total of 30 campuses in 14 states with an anticipated total population of approximately 5,200 students. Steiner president and CEO Leonard Fluxman said: “The acquisition of Cortiva Institute, a well-known participant in the massage therapy education field and one of our longtime competitors, would considerably expand and fortify the presence of our Schools division in the post-secondary massage therapy school market.” The sale price was $33-million. 

Comment: Interestingly, this move brings into one large corporation the 2 branches of the massase field. Cortiva’s mix has leaned involvement in medical massage, integrated care and research involvement while Steiner’s core have a focus on the spa services and cruise ships that are the public corporation’s Steiner’s forte. Fluxman captures the duality this way: “We look forward to introducing even more graduates, with increasingly diverse skill sets, into the growing massage therapy and spa industries.” Here’s hope there is a vital exchange between the spa and medical interests. (Thanks to Jan Schwartz, MA for the link to this story.)