IHPC offers top six priorities for integrative care

The future of integrative healthcare in America should be centered on six priorities, according to the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) in a July 2 e-mail.

You can change the integrative health landscape, wrote Gerald Clum, DC, a member of the IHPC board of directors, in the exchange. Clum was among the speakers at the first ever Congressional Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus in March. Three disciplines—chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathy—were highlighted.

Clum highlighted six areas, which he said must be the focal point for integrative medicine to progress in healthcare policy:

  1. Increase the budget of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to fund research to better understand clinical and economic value of integrative care.
  2. Address the restrictions in Medicare related to payment of integrative services.
  3. Expand active duty military and veteran’s access to integrative healthcare.
  4.  Encourage full implementation of non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management.
  5. Appreciate and respect the feedback of consumers expressed in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) related to complementary care.
  6. Support and implement the spirit and intent of Section 2706 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The percentage of healthcare research funding for integrative services is minimal, said Clum. Though consumers actively seek alternative and complementary methods of care, the overall system of healthcare delivery, research, and payment refuses to embrace integrative medicine as a viable option. Clum said it is on us to demonstrate the clinical and economic value of these services and, to accomplish this, additional funding in needed.

In terms of Medicare, many Americans are denied the healthcare strategies of their choice due to lack of funding for integrative care under programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Integrative medicine has the potential to offer more affordable and effective long-term solutions, Clum said, which can only be achieved if payment and access policies change.

The inclusion of integrative medicine within the military and veteran’s communities has grown significantly over the years. Clum said the next step, however, is scaling the offerings and assuring these services are available for military populations. First and foremost, the focus must be on providing these individuals with the full range of healthcare services needed for their service. Second, active duty and military and veteran’s healthcare can represent the training grounds for the majority of physicians in America. Exposure of these persons training toward effective and efficient application of integrative care will equip them to be more integrative in the future, Clum said.   

Pain management is an ongoing need in the United States, especially in light of the opioid epidemic. Federal organizations have called for an increase in the use of non-pharmacologic approaches to pain care, which the integrative community is inherently positioned to provide.

One of the pillars of evidence-based healthcare is taking in to consideration patient perspectives, Clum said. The NHIS delves in to how consumers are using various forms of healthcare and how it affects their health circumstances. The movement toward patient-centered care further supports the need for integrative practitioners to listen to the end users of the system.

Section 2706 of the PPACA offers an important guarantee to the public that providers of their choice are able to assist them with their care needs. Clum said we cannot and shot not overlook this policy statement.

Now that the Caucus is off the ground, Clum said, the hard work of growing and sustaining the effort is before the House of Representatives and the integrative healthcare community.

For this to be the success the American public needs in terms of changing the landscape of healthcare,” Clum said, “it will require broad-based, grassroots efforts from as many organizations and individuals as possible.”

Editor’s note: The IHPC invites the integrative practitioner community to call your elected officials to support the Integrative Health and Wellness caucus! Constituent phone calls are effective in making change. Don't hesitate! Click here for more information to make your call.