In recent weeks, two influential integrative health organizations each chose to feature presentations on the expansive, multidisciplinary, and remarkably patient-choice integrative pain pilot associated with the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC). The presentations for the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health and the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) featured the project’s remarkable, multi-stakeholder partners: the state’s dominant payer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Vermont Department of Health, and the academic medical center. Included in the latter was the project’s research leader, longtime integrative health policy activist and prior NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health adviser Janet Kahn, PhD, LMT. The parties shared early outcomes from the unique bundled payment model. Many consider the strategy a potential pilot for the nation. What is being discovered? Can it be implemented elsewhere?
Health creation. Transformation. From reactivity to well-being. Empowerment. From system-centered to person-centered. Using the least force. Changing the therapeutic order of the nation. These aspirations warm and power the integrative health movement, dreams on the long march for radical re-direction of a $3.5-trillion industry. Yet how often do change prescriptions meet the radical requirements of the dreams? Acupuncture in Medicare doesn’t do it. Nor non-pharma into chronic pain guidelines. In The Community Cure: Transforming Health Outcomes Together, Evolution of Medicine impresario James Maskell offers a re-framework that seeks to rise to the task. Maskell grounds his “cure” in group services models through which the medium is the message for a population crippled by loneliness.
Cast a net for papers on “innovations in group-delivered services” and what do you get? Guest editor Maria Chao, DrPh, MPA summed up the nearly 40 submissions this way: “Our editorial team was struck by the heterogeneity of integrative group visits for a range of health conditions, serving diverse patients across the life course and implemented in varied healthcare settings. A unifying theme is the potential for integrative group visits to address unmet needs of underserved and vulnerable patients. In many ways, group visits serve as a critical model towards integrative health equity.” The commentaries and research articles in the JACM Special Focus Issue on Innovation in Group Delivered Services make a potent case for an expanded role for groups not just for those who can pay cash but for all populations in a transformed healthcare system. All the articles are in open access until August 25, 2019.