Check out these stories from the January edition of John Weeks’ Integrator Round-up.
Two Top 10 lists for integrative health care from 2009: events/actions and people to watch
In this past month of Top 10 lists, here are two for the loosely-defined integrative practice field. One focuses on the Top 10 Events and Actions of 2009. The second is a Top 10 People from 2009 who made significant contributions. The individuals honored are as diverse as the field: consumer-philanthropist, MD educator, ND economist, federal politician, holistic nurse hospital-based integrative practice director, an MD researcher, DC-homeopath organization leader, publisher, and massage therapist policy leader. Those named reflect the diversity of the stakeholders covered in the Integrator Blog News & Reports who seek to move the US toward health and wellness. The stakeholders considered range from: federal wellness initiatives to integrated community medicine clinics; NIH researchers to Yoga therapists; research-focused academic integrative medicine educators to health coaches; employers with progressive health and productivity programs to licensed complementary and alternative medicine practitioners. Enjoy reflecting on the year the was, the diversity of this movement, and the people who are pulling for change.
Los Angeles Times article focuses section on coverage of CAM services in Harkin’s Senate reform bill
“A broader definition of healthcare” was the somewhat bland title to the December 6, 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times. The subhead caught some of the controversy: “Proposals before the Senate would allow treatment plans to incorporate alternative medicines, including acupuncture and dietary supplements. Insurers and some scientists object.” The provision at the heart of the story, and resulting debate, reads:
‘‘SEC. 2706. NON-DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTH CARE.‘‘(a) PROVIDERS.—A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law. This section shall not require that a group health plan or health insurance issuer contract with any health care provider willing to abide by the terms and conditions for participation established by the plan or issuer. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing a group health plan, a health insurance issuer, or the Secretary from establishing varying reimbursement rates based on quality or performance measures.
The article underscored the significant support US Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has received from chiropractors over the years. Harkin included the language in the Senate version of the reform bill which is now being merged with a House version which did not include the language.
Comment: In discussions with individuals close to this legislation, consensus appears to be that it applies to practitioners where mandates and required inclusion already exist. Most believe that the section, despite how it reads, will not mandate additional inclusion, though may be a base for pressuring for inclusion. The article includes a useful hotlink to a list of existing state mandates (see pages 6-7) plus an estimate of the impact on total premium costs. (Thanks to Douglas Mackay, ND and Michael Levin for the heads-up on the article.)
“Integrated personal health coaching” to be added to American Specialty Health’s quiver as it expands wellness offerings
American Specialty Health began in the late 1980s as an arm of American Chiropractic Network (ACN). While ACN’s leaders eventually sold the firm to United Health Group, ASH, under founder and CEO George deVries, first expanded from its California chiro base to include other CAM practitioners, and then regionally and nationally. Then DeVries leveraged a discount “affinity” product to move significantly into health and wellness programs for health plans and employers. The declarative title of an ASH press release from December 17, 2009 reveals the extent of the transformation of the firm: “Future of Population Health Lies With Personal Health Coaching Across the Continuum of an Individual’s Health Experience.” By July 2010, ASH and the business’ Healthyroads subsidiary “will provide integrated health improvement services to improve the health and productivity of populations and individuals.” These will include “Condition Coaching, Lifestyle Coaching, and Life Skills Coaching.” Such services, according to the release, “will be integrated through systems that produce measurable, sustainable, and transformational health improvement.”
DeVries references the limited, historic success of disease management programs, with their focus on patient compliance, as a reason for the San Diego-based firm’s move. These ASH programs will add to an already significant base of health-creation programs. Healthyroads has provided coaching on lifestyle and other health improvement programs since 2002. The program currently covers some 3.7 million members through contracts with 19 health plans and direct services to over 100 employer groups nationwide. The release states that the “expansion into Personal Health Coaching is in response to requests by clients regarding a current gap in health management programs.” The firm’s chief health services officer, Doug Metz, DC, a co-author of the economics paper for the IOM Summit on Integative Medicine, is quoted as saying that the programs are:
” … designed to engage members and provide them with the tools, services, encouragement, and motivation to make and sustain change in their personal health. We view members as consumers instead of patients. We believe it is our responsibility to engage, encourage, persuade, and motivate our members to participate and keep them engaged in personal health improvement activities and personal health coaching.”
The entire ASH web of business has more than 700 employees and covers over 15.6 million members.
Comment: Many practitioners throughout the nation have had their challenges with ASH. The firm has dominated the managed chiropractic and managed CAM world, in part through attentiveness to their employer and insurer clients, reflected in part by offering low rates for services through their network providers. The firm has been perceived by some as bullying. That said, one cannot but appreciate some of the business brilliance ASH showed a decade ago when they saw the petering out of the managed CAM business, used a discount benefit to create Healthyroads, then continuously grew the firm’s health and wellness business. The ASH move in 2010 appears to be yet another in which DeVries and his team, to use hockey great Wayne Gretsky’s line, “skated to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin becomes first AOM school to gain regional accreditation
The Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin (AOMA) has been granted accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) according to a December15, 2009 release from AOMA. In gaining this status, AOMA became “the first and only stand-alone, single-degree granting school of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the nation to be regionally accredited, and the only school of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to be accredited by SACS.” AOMA president William Morris, PhD, LAc, asserts that the recognition “is a major accomplishment for the Academy of Oriental Medicine and for the field of Oriental medicine.” One stated benefit is that “courses taken at the college will be eligible for transfer to any other regionally accredited school, from large state universities to community colleges.” The release notes that the school, founded in 1993, presently has 204 students in its 3.5 year long program. AOMA’s associated clinics conduct over 20,000 patient visits each year. SACS is the recognized regional accrediting body in 11 southern states. According to AOMA, the agency is “also active in Latin America for institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees.”
Perlman and Kligler assume leadership of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine
With the turn to 2010, Adam Perlman, MD, MPH and Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH have taken over as chair and vice chair, respectively of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM). Perlman is the executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Both Perlman and Kligler are experienced integrative medicine clinicians and educators with long histories of working closely and collaboratively with their colleagues in other disciplines. Each served on the planning committee of the multidisciplinary National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care. Perlman takes over for Victor Sierpina, MD, who completed his two-year term in office. A list of CAHCIM’s executive committee is here.
Acupuncture accrediting agency comment period on “First Professional Doctorate” ends January 15, 2010
The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine will close its comment period on January 15, 2010 on its proposal to develop a First Professional Doctorate (FPD). The proposed ACAOM standards are available here. The development has been the subject of heated and at time divisive debate in the profession for 25 years. Consensus for the direction has grown in recent years. Most AOM programs currently offer an entry level Masters. A January 5, 2010 e-letter from the leadership team at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College-Berkeley (AIMC), an ACAOM accredited school, urged readers to write letters of support for ACAOM moving ahead with the FPD. AIMC included a link to 10 page supportive perspective authored by Kevin Ergil, MS, MA, LAc, Will Morris, PhD, LAc, Benjamin Dierauff, MS, LAc and others. A sample AIMC letter recommends that letter writers promote advocacy of a “transitional FPD.” This would appear to be a kind of earned grandparent clause for those who have already completed their education. The “transitional FPD” would take into account “such factors as professional experience, the program from which they graduated, and post-graduate learning endeavors.” One outcome of the FPD, according to AIMC Berkeley, would be that “future students that would otherwise pursue a DC/ND/MD might choose an AOM career instead.” ACAOM currently has 60 schools with accreditation or candidacy status.
New York Chiropractic College pays student memberships in American Public Health Association
A press release on the December 5, 2009 graduation ceremonies at New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) included an interesting note: the College provides students with memberships in the Chiropractic Health Care section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The statement was made in the context of a special recognition award at the ceremony to NYCC president Frank J. Nicchi, DC, MS “for advancing public health and chiropractic and for his outstanding contribution to the future of chiropractic in Public Health.” Nicchi instituted the policy through which NYCC students began to receive these memberships as part of his commitment to building bridges with the public health community. (See related article under professions, this Round-up.)
Ambitious “Healthy Nation Partnership” formed by Bravewell-IOM-AARP
Do you think it is about time that the U.S. makes a concerted national effort to foster health and wellness? The public-private Healthy Nation Partnership (HNP) was formed in the second half of 2009 through a powerful trio of founding partners: Bravewell Collaborative of philanthropists, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the AARP. The partnership is an outgrowth of the successful National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public which the Bravewell and the IOM co-sponsored. The 40-million member strong AARP (formerly the American Association for Retired Persons) adds both breadth and clout on Capitol Hill to this group.
HNP is conceived as “a network of public and private organizations working together to improve the health of all Americans by transforming the way we understand, value, and practice health and wellbeing.” The group has made a concept paper available to interested parties. The concept paper is published in full here. The founders invite other organizations to consider what they might offer to this movement-oriented network and to contact them via email@example.com. A thought-piece which explores this initiative, together with a not unrelated US Senate initiative, as a kind of “Manhattan Project” for health creation, is available here.
Comment: The interesting questions posed by this development, for the integrative practice fields are: 1) Will stakeholders from these fields who claim to support the push for health that is in the HNP step forward to participate? and, if so 2) to what extent will they be included? The 350,000 licensed complementary and alternative healthcare practitioners, plus the few thousands of integrative medical doctors, can be a base of health workers for this movement, if appropriately utilized. One such utilization, given the policy requirements for moving us toward a healthier culture, might be to activate their patients when the movement needs to have some grassroots support. Will the Bravewell-IOM-AARP partner with these stakeholders?
AAHF announces merger, becomes Alliance for Natural Health-USA
In a December 18, 2009 posting, the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) announced its merger with the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), a British organization. A statement from ANH executive director Gretchen DuBeau reads: “This merger joins two powerful, results-orientated natural health organizations that have long advocated for natural and integrative medicine and will help us create change globally.” The announcement coincided with the launch of a new website.
Comment: AAHF, formerly the American Association for Preventive Medicine, was a critical force in Washington, DC for a decade under the direction of then lobbyist Candace Campbell, now a member of the board of the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium. AAHF had a flurry of activity following a significant anonymous donation in 2006-2008 but has been quiet since. It will be interesting to see what this merger with an organization will bring. The ANH board of directors has some strong, proven players.
NYBI offers free online “Preparing for Surgery” resource
Preparing for Surgery is a simple, useful online resource for patients and clinicians now available at no cost thanks to the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. The Department, the first of its kind in the U.S. when it was established in 2006, grew out of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing. The separate pages of the Preparing for Surgery site lead one through background on the evidence for mind-body complementary care, preparation activities, post surgery activities, resources and more. While the site does not note authorship of the program, a note in January 2010 issue of the e-newsletter of the American Holistic Medical Association states that “this grant-funded web site is an evidence-based mind-body program that is based on the eight-year Holistic Surgery Program developed by a clinical nurse specialist at Beth Israel.”
Over 5000 visits for homeless and low-income via Seattle’s Alternative Healthcare Access Campaign
The locations for service delivery for the Alternative Healthcare Access Campaign (AHAC) say a lot about the clientele: Angeline’s, a drop-in day center for homeless women; Peace on the Streets by Kids from the Streets, a center for homeless youth; the Frye Apartments, a hotel converted to permanent low income housing; Compass Cascade, a transitional housing program for homeless women; Roots, an overnight shelter for young adults; and Tent City, an emergency housing project in King County. Since 1999, AHAC has knitted together a network of some 40 practitioners to donate over 5000 visits to this clientele. Services include massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic and nutritional support. Cynthia Price, PhD, LMP, a board member, nurse and volunteer massage therapist (and NIH-funded researcher based at the University of Washington) notes that AHAC is seeking additional funding to maintain and expand services to a growing population of needy. Workstudy students from Bastyr University and a 2008 grant from the Massage Therapy Foundation have provided core administrative support to date. AHAC can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-925-3322.
Comment; Among the ironies in the outing of “alternative medicine” a decade ago was its association in the media and mainstream analysis with high-end, cash-paying clientele and subsequently, boutique healthcare services. The informal practice of sliding scale offered by many of these providers was not evident. That positioning downplayed the service focus of many of these licensed practitioners. However, these have typically had few opportunities to work as paid providers through community health channels. AHAC is one of a number of similar groups across the country, often associated with accredited colleges and universities linked to these fields, which advance this service focus and help meet these needs.
NCNM opens Oregon’s largest natural health clinic; focus on ND, LAc services
This fall, the Portland, Oregon-based National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) opened that state’s largest natural healthcare facility. The clinic features 18,000 square feet of newly renovated space. According to a report in the December 2009 newsletter of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medicine Colleges, the clinic’s services will focus on those related to the college’s two academic programs in naturopathic medicine and classical Chinese medicine. The 30 treatment rooms will be sites for integrative oncology care, hydrotherapy, IV therapy rooms, a group-acupuncture and qigong area, a full-service natural medicine pharmacy and space for community seminar use. The report notes that the Min Zidell Healing Garden is being designed as a teaching botanical herb garden. NCNM, which combined its two leading teaching clinics in the new space, utilized a variety of sustainable and green building practices. The College anticipates approximately 18,000 patient visits in its first year of service. The AANMC report notes that the new clinic comes on the heels of Oregon Senate Bill 327 which “will help Oregon NDs to meet the escalating need for primary naturopathic care” by expanding the prescribing authority of Oregon’s NDs. The clinic build-out is part of an ambitious NCNM development plan through 2015.
Boy Scouts of America ends 22-year recognition of chiropractors for physical examinations; ACA fights change
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is engaged in a campaign to reverse a decision of the Boy Scouts of America under which chiropractors are no longer legitimate providers of required physical exam services for its youth and adult members. A December 17, 2009 ACA mailing to members notes that move voices are needed than those who have thus far weighed in. The association has engaged a letter-writing campaign to reinstate chiropractors as providers of these services. ACA materials do not make it clear why the recognition was lost.
Integrative Healthcare Symposium features clinical content, policy developments and diversity
In New York City from February 25-27, 2010, the Integrative Healthcare Symposium is expected to convene over 1000 integrative medical doctors and clinicians from nursing, chiropractic, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, naturopathic medicine and other disciplines. The conference will be the year’s most significant clinical and policy gathering of its kind. Woodson Merrell, MD, is once again conference chair. The three days will include top clinical presentations from the likes of Christiane Northrup, MD, Holly Lucille, ND, Mark Hyman, MD, Jeff Bland, PhD, Barbara Dossey, PhD, RN, HN-BC Bernie Siegel, MD, Walter Crinnion, ND, Belinda Anderson, PhD, LAc and others. An array of policy initiatives will be featured. Susan Luck, RN, HN-BC will moderate a panel on the role of holistic nurses in meeting health coaching needs. Integrator publisher-editor John Weeks will moderate 2 policy panels. The first, a plenary session, explores federal policy action with the second bringing leader of 8 national organizations. A key theme for each will be exploration of the role of coalition. Steve Szydlowski, PhD, CEO of Inner Harmony Wellness Center will once again offer his well-received program on business strategies in integrative clinics. Alignment of interest note: IHS is a sponsor of the Integrator and Weeks provides some services to IHS as part of their agreement.
Comment: Diversity and the practical, clinical focus make this conference one-of-a-kind. Panels on women’s health, policy and other issues include representatives from numerous disciplines. The audience is liked the program, mixed, with the top participation from integrative MD but significant representation across the board. Hope to see you there!
Portland, Oregon for the 2012 North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine: May
The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine has announced that May 15-18, 2012 and Portland, Oregon will be the dates and location of the next iteration of the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine. A web page on the conference notes that “this conference is international in scope and is intended to foster the development of new collaborations and to strengthen existing partnerships.” The first conference, in 2006, attracted over 600 attendees and the 2009 version increased that attendance by a third to over 800 from 23 countries. Adi Haramati, PhD, will once again be the overall impresario for this conference.
Comment: In 2006 and 2009 these conferences made the Integrator Top 10, and for good reason. Each has proved a pulse-taking moment, with multiple pulses relative to the entire evidence house for complementary and integrative research and practice. Each conference has merely a single complaint; namely, that one can’t tri-furcate and be at 3 sessions at once. Portland in May is a sweet time. Put it on your calendar!
Holistic doctor group bands together for multi-centered research; Shealy protocol to be explored first
The newly formed American Holistic Medical Research Institute (AHMRI) is coordinating a study led by integrative medicine pioneer Norm Shealy, MD. According to a note in the January 2010 newsletter of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), Sheely has sought to create a vehicle for multi-centered research by holistic medical doctors for years. The initial research venture is called the ABLEPRO Clinical Study: Atherosclerosis Biomarker Lowering Enabled by Providing Arginine for Enhanced Nitric Oxide. The ever-able Robert Anderson, MD, who helped found both AHMA and the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, is president of AHMRI. The organization is seeking up to 100 holistic medical doctor participants who will each agree to enroll at least 5 patients for a body of 1000 participants. Information is available through study coordinator Dan Swindell via email@example.com.
Chiropractors call for papers for 2010 public health meeting
The Chiropractic Health Care Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA-CHC) has issued a call for abstracts for presentation at the 2010 Annual Meeting to be held in Denver, CO, November 6 – 10, 2010. Topics related to this year’s theme, “Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative”, and in all areas related to chiropractic health care will be accepted for review. The deadline is February 2, 2010. Abstracts must be submitted online directly to the Chiropractic Health Care Section. Instructions are available through the link to the section Web page. For further information please feel free to contact John Stites, DC at 309-786-2663 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit via this link.
Massage accrediting agency calls for public member commissioner candidate
The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation is seeking a candidates to become a public member. COMTA seeks The representative of the general public “must have no relationship or affiliation with a massage therapy educational institution or organization.” In addition: “They represent the public at large and their contributions to the Commission are to provide the broader input available from those unrelated to massage therapy and bodywork education and practice. The Commission would especially benefit from this member having a background in finance, accounting, or public relations.” COMTA, the accrediting agency developed by the massage field to accredit massage programs, sets the standard with just over 100 accredited schools about the literally hundreds of mainly proprietary programs. Those interested can contact COMTA executive director, Kate Henrioulle at email@example.com or (202) 895-1518.
Comment: COMTA is an exceptionally important organization in a massage field that can shy away from standards. I include this note with the hope that one or more of you with a passion for healing might find this form of service enriching.
Acu Detox group has new manager, new offices
Reiki to get big January 2010 boost from the Oz Show
Mehmet Oz, MD will give Reiki a significant “booster shot” on one of his widely-viewed TV shows according to a December 17, 2009 newsletter from Reiki practitioner, entrepreneur and promoter Pamela Miles. Miles has worked as a Reiki practitioner in the operating room with Oz, a cardiothorassic surgeon. Miles notes that Oz will mention that his spouse is a Reiki master. In a further note, Miles shares that she anticipates the pain focus at NIH NCCAM will be good for the Reiki field. She references a study of 3 years of her Reiki work in an “off-site, affiliated cancer treatment center which found that 97% of the people who had pain and/or anxiety before their Reiki treatment reported improvement after their treatment.”
H1N1 boosts natural products sales
Research from Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) suggests that the H1N1 virus has fueled supplement sales around the globe. NBJ research cited accounts from Australia to South Korea to Germany to the Philippines to South Africa which affirmed the view. The chief spike in sales is in immune-support supplements. Richard Henfrey, director of people and strategy at Blackmores, an Australia-based firm, is quoted as saying the “in recent months, global health concerns, including H1N1, have resulted in a high demand for general health and immunity products.” The NBJ reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued 147 warning letters since May 2009 to companies marketing products—from air filters and face masks to shampoos and supplements—for prevention or cure of H1N1 flu.
Cohen’s legal work reframed as Global Vision Law Group
Michael Cohen, whose prolific writing and consultation on legal issues relative to integrative medicine has educated the first generation of integrative care stakeholders, has re-fashioned his legal practice as the Global Vision Law Group. The group includes a focus on legal services for entrepreneurial businesses. Cohen’s focus on providing services for spas and other integrative and complementary and alternative healthcare businesses remains strong. Cohen’s significant collection of book-length contributions is gathered here. Among his colleagues with the Global Vision Law Group is Alan Dumoff, MSW, JD, also an integrative practice lawyer and educator whose work in the field dates back as far as Cohen’s. Cohen’s professional background, like that of Dumoff, is remarkably diverse. His experience includes yoga teacher, securities industry, Iowa writers workshop, Harvard Medical School faculty, and more.
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