Bad News Breeds Good News: National Academy’s Top Recognition of Integrative Health Since 2009 Summit

Bad News Breeds Good News: National Academy’s Top Recognition of Integrative Health Since 2009 Summit

At one point over the past three years of robust expansion of dialogue related to chronic pain care I received a somewhat panicky email from an integrative care advocate. He was concerned that by me speaking of the “opportunity” for integrative health produced by the US’ enthrallment with opioids that his field would be tainted as “opportunists.” Fact is, the dialogue over right use of “non-pharmacologic” practices and practitioners in chronic pain treatment has provoked a quantum opening in many quarters. This article shares an invitation to a December 4-5 workshop at from the National Academy Medicine (NAM) – the most robust inclusion of integrative health there since the 2009 Summit. Also included: another positive development at NAM, and first notes of advances at AIPM’s recent Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress. The bad news of the opioid crisis is proving very good for opening needed dialogue.

December 4-5, 2018: NAM Onsite/Web Available “Non-Pharmacologic Approaches in Pain Management”

On November 21, 2018 a staffer for the National Academy of Medicine Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education sent me a note sharing that more space had been opened – but seats were going fast – to the December 4-5, 2018 workshop “Non-Pharmacologic Approaches in Pain Management”. Before news was out on the workshop presenters, I previously reported on this event. Credit the co-chairs Daniel Cherkin, PhD from Kaiser Permanente and Anthony Delitto, PhD, PT and the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health’s (ACIH) committee member Elizabeth Goldblatt, PhD, MPA/HA for lassoing a terrific line-up. As one person close to the event shared in a private email: “Everyone was available. We got our A-list.”  The agenda for the event shows that among those presenting or moderating, besides the 3 noted above, are a terrific interprofessional mix:

Patricia Herman, Roger Chou, Lynn DeBar, Christine Goertz, Eric Schoomaker, David Atkins, David Shurtleff, Karen Sherman, Ben Kligler, Anthony Lisi, Beau Anderson, Margaret Chesney, Rob Saper, Robert Bonakdar, Harley Goldberg, Michelle Maiers .. and many more.

Integrative health has not been so prominent at the NAM since the 2009 Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public. That program was funded by $450,000 from the Bravewell Collaborative. This workshop may be credited in part at least to the roughly $150,000 from an anonymous philanthropic partner of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health that backed the 7 years of ACIH’s relationship building at the Global Forum led by Goldblatt. While the seats may be gone, the exceptional NAM webcast is available to all. Sign-up is here.

AIPM’s Second Multi-Stakeholder Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress: All Oars Pulling Together

A year ago, in the fall of 2017, the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM) working with the Integrative Health Policy Consortium and others held its inaugural Integrative Pain Policy Summit.  Early this month, at is second policy congress, leaders in integrative medicine heard from and shared ideas with representatives from multiple stakeholders:

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Indian Health Services, health insurers and a member of the Massachusetts State Senate.

A core focus of these events is to remove obstacles to integrative pain management by stimulating public-private dialogue to expand coverage. Informal reports from participants in the second of these multi-stakeholder, invitational meetings shared a story of deepening engagement. AIPM executive director Bob Twillman, PhD shared that the meeting was “viscerally different than last year, when some were feeling people out and unsure about the others – this year everyone came to work.” Another participant Margaret Chesney, PhD noted a “definite sense that things are moving, it’s coming together – everyone is ready to row. All of the stakeholders were engaged.”  AIPM is expected to publish a report. Meantime, AIPM’s working groups are continuing at work to advance quality pain care. One or more white papers are anticipated.

AIPM’s Twillman Appointed to NAM Opioid Action Collaborative

I recently reported the blindspot of NAM president Victor Dzau, MD in having zero integrative health representative advising his “NAM Action Collaborative: Countering the Opioid Epidemic.”  What level of prejudice or ignorance could stimulate such exclusion in this day and age? I noted that I was able – thanks in this case to Integrator philanthropic partners Ruth Westreich and Southern California University of Health Sciences – to devote some time to contacting NAM staffers and educating them to this hole in their collection of experts.

NAM responded affirmatively, but weakly. While the inner sanctum of conventional pain brains on the NAM steering committee was not pierced, NAM did choose a professional with multidisciplinary experience for one of the Action Collaborative’s committees. Bob Twillman, PhD, the president of AIPM – see story immediately above – was selected to a working group on Prescribing Guidelines and Evidence Standards. There are no such integrative health leaders an any of the other committees. Twillman is the only professional from the integrative health community among the roughly 70 appointees.

Final Note: Well, while this latter move is classic tokenism – still, it is a step in the right direction. The luminaries headlining the December 4-5, ACIH-induced NAM workshop are something else again. Here’s hoping that a few more of the 70 in the Opioid Collaborative will find their way to the December exploration. One good sign of potential cross-seeding: Global Forum members Eric Holmboe, MD and Scott Shannon, DO, MPH are among the Opioid Collaborative’s 70. Perhaps the urgency and “visceral difference” felt in the AIPM meeting will infuse these other gatherings. Good steps, all.