December 2014 John Weeks Integrator Round-Up: Integrative Services

by John Weeks, Publisher Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports   Survey of AIHM Conference Attendees Finds 67% of Integrative Practitioners Using or Planning to Use Telemedicine   In a survey of mainly medical doctors and osteopaths conducted at the October

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports

Survey of AIHM Conference Attendees Finds 67% of Integrative Practitioners Using or Planning to Use Telemedicine

In a survey of mainly medical doctors and osteopaths conducted at the October conference of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), 33% said they are using telemedicine, another third said they planned to, but only 19% said they are being reimbursed. Telemedicine is defined as “care via telephone, video visits, web cam visits -- or other consultations not in person.” In addition, 56% of the respondents said they believe that technology is “ahead of medical board guidelines.” AIHM board member Nick Jacobs, a former hospital CEO and adviser to hospital programs comments: “We need to open up all the options for healthcare to providers and patients. It drives down costs and improves patient outcomes.”

Comment: Notably, in a recent posting on trends in medicines, attorney Michel Cohen, MA, JD posits that one will be “the gradual merger of integrative medicine and telehealth.” In addition, integrative health policy activist Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH is focusing on this nexus in her blog site, Advocacy for Policy and Legislation for Integrative Healthcare.


Silver Linings:  Update on the Closure of Pathways to Wellness from Beth Sommers, LAc, MPH, PhD

The Integrator reported recently on the sad closure of Pathways to Wellness, one of the nation’s most significant and enduring initiatives to bring acupuncture and other integrative health practices to the underserved. Beth Sommers, LAc, MPH, PhD, a co-founder, reports that there are recent “silver linings” as the “staff have been working like crazy to restore services.” For instance, the New England School of Acupuncture took on contracts with 3 hospitals and several home-care agencies. In addition, she says, “a number of local community health centers are adding acupuncture (and will be reimbursed by managed care and other insurers including Medicaid).” Sommers notes that one managed care group “had over 200 members requesting services.” In addition, an agreement “is in the works” under which two departments at Boston Medical Center (Integrative Medicine and Infectious Disease) that will “partner to offer acupuncture to clients with HIV/AIDS via a contract from Mass. Department of Public Health. Sommers concludes: “Acupuncture services will be significantly integrated into comprehensive clinics/hospitals where clients routinely get their care,” adding: “Sounds like a major win to me. Stay tuned.”

Comment: This is a fascinating turn of events. One wonders how this outsourcing will shake down from a patient perspective. And what agency will take up the community visibility and advocacy that was always a part of Pathways? Regardless, the community’s response attests to the respect Pathways earned.


Reiki Gets A Little Respect in U.S. News and World Reports

A November 10, 2014 issue of U.S. News and World Reports gave Reiki what one close observer and activist in the field, Pamela Miles, calls the most balanced article ever on Reiki in a mainstream medium. Giving value to the field is researcher Shamani Jain, PhD: “Reiki is one of several therapies based on the biofield, or a type of energy field that ‘regulates everything from our cellular function to our nervous system,’ says Shamini Jain, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California–San Diego. While the biofield itself is generally accepted – it ‘consists of things that we can measure like electromagnetic energy that actually emanates from us,’ Jain says – biofield therapies such as reiki and therapeutic touch are more controversial?because they’re based on the idea of a ‘subtle’ aspect of the biofield,?which is harder to measure.”  Jain  is then quoted again: “It’s difficult for our Western science to wrap its mind around” because, as the writer paraphrases, “it’s not about popping pills, injecting needles or otherwise altering the body’s chemical composition, says Jain, a clinical psychologist who studies integrative medicine.”

Comment: For Miles, an indefatigable activist for “Reiki in Medicine,” this good press is a particularly long time coming. One might guess that the Wikipedia site for Reiki is as unfriendly as that for homeopathic medicine, as detailed by Dana Ullman, MPH, CCH, elsewhere in this Round-up. If so, you are right. The Reiki page begins with boilerplate antagonism: “Reiki is a spiritual practice, now considered to be a form of pseudoscience …”