October 27, 2019

Chiropractor Goertz: Chairperson at PCORI & Duke Spine Care Leader – Interview and Data on PCORI Integrative Grants

Long-timers in the integrative trenches will know the paradoxical feelings of dismay at how messed up health care still is and at the same time satisfaction at just how far “integration” has advanced. Evidence for the latter comes from not one but two recent moves in the career of chiropractor and health services researcher Christine Goertz, DC, PhD. Place yourself in 1988. The chiropractors were just concluding their decade-long, successful Wilk vs. the AMA anti-trust suit. Most of medicine and much of the media – in part because of the AMA’s economically-driven attacks – equated “chiropractor” with “quack”.  Now consider where Goertz has arrived via her health services research and policy career that focused on safety, effectiveness and quality issues. She was recently named by the General Accounting Office as Chairperson, Board of Governors, for the Congressionally-funded, quasi-public Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). And Goertz just began a new role as Professor and the Director of System Development and Coordination for Spine Health at Duke Health in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. I reached Goertz to talk with her about her dual ascension.
October 13, 2019

Google Censorship of Integrative: Updates on a Business that Once Had “Don’t Be Evil” as Its Motto

The Integrator article two issues ago on Google’s activities that precipitously gouged traffic at key websites (Self-Interested Whims of the Oligarchs: Google and Facebook Kill Access to Alternative and Integrative Medicine) immediately drew a range of responses. Longtime medical journalist Erik Goldman shared the remarkable diminution of traffic at his Holistic Primary Care site. Some spoke of organizing efforts. At the same time, other good analyses have been published. New information regarding Google’s growing partnerships with members of the medical industry and particularly pharmaceutical giants has come out. And there is an interesting coincidence of Google’s choice of dance partners as it matures and measures it global strategy and the corporate decision to excise its cheeky formative promise to “Don’t Be Evil”. Is it time to wonder whether there is a next level war for access emerging?
October 12, 2019

The Intriguing Impacts of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research: Exit Interview with PCORI Founding Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH

The way Joe Selby, MD, MPH tells it, the naming of the $3.2-billion Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – which from the outset had a charge to explore the comparative effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine methods – was both serendipitous and brilliant. At the time the quasi-public agency was established as part of the Affordable Care Act, the idea of “comparative effectiveness research (CER)” a hot-potato for the medical industry. Medicine’s waste, morbidity, mortality and cost prompted interest in real-world, decision-oriented research. But powerful medical stakeholders were worried enough about the comparative effectiveness of their part of the status quo that elevating a “CER Institute” was not attractive. The patient centered name was a political compromise. It captured something of the real world. And what politician or stakeholder could oppose a name like that? In this interview at the end of his 9 year stint as PCORI’s founding executive director, Selby shares some of the “undeniable influence” – including at the NIH and the FDA and in discovering influences on cost savings that is growing out of PCORI’s active placement of patients at the table in decision-making.
October 10, 2019

How the Spirit of Greta Thunberg Was Repeatedly Invoked at a Colloquium on the Microbiome

The headliner for the September 27, 2019  Dr. Rogers Prize Colloquium was Alessio Fasano, MD the Harvard professor and celiac disease researcher making the global rounds as a microbiome expert. Fasano broke ranks with conventional practice when he began to assert the link between dysbiotic and disordered gut bacteria and the shocking rise of autism. He shared the stage at the Vancouver, BC event with two Canadians: fecal transplant researcher Jeremy Burton, BSc, MSc, PhD, and this year’s $250,000 Dr. Rogers Prize winner, the pioneering micro nutrient and mental health researcher Bonnie Kaplan, PhD. Perhaps because of the content, when it came to audience questions the spirit pervading the room was that of the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. That very day outside the meeting place, Thunberg’s activism provoked a student-led march. The micro and macro met in parallel calls for disruptive change. “So the question is,” Kaplan asked, “where is our Greta Thunberg?”