A significant trend is appearing in major research organizations on integrative health and medicine. The timing is right: in the United States, major reports, meetings and guidelines now include non-pharmacologic, a.k.a. integrative approaches. But how do we move these into practice? Top acupuncture, integrative oncology and general integrative health conferences are featuring what is called “implementation science.” This study of methods to promote the integration of research findings seeks to propel changes in healthcare policy and practice. The integrative trend arises amidst a renewed push for health services research of all kinds. Action on these lines can straighten out some twisted karma relative to the 1998 US Congressional legislative mandate that established the globe’s most significant scientific investment in alternative, complementary and integrative medicine.
In 2015, the legislature in the state of Wyoming made a significant investment in the idea that its people and communities could benefit if the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) 5-point ear acupuncture protocol was put in the hands of the people. They created a law that allowed any adult U.S. citizen with an interest, who took and completed the appropriate NADA training, to provide the services. And unlike other states that might limit services to a few conditions or locations, this piece of Wild West legislation allowed the practice for stress relief, for pain, for loneliness, grief and whatever else may be tearing at one’s vital force, at fire stations or churches, community centers or malls, and whereever else “ADSes” – as they call themselves – might gather one of more interested recipients. The experiment is most under way in Laramie, Wyoming, population 30,000. Can the Laramie experience be a healing tool for the nation?
From 30,000 feet – where I sit – it’s easy to proclaim all the reasons why group visits are a terrific fit for the values and practice of integrative health and medicine. Docere. What better format than groups? Adults learn better interactively. Groups are mediums for taking power in oneself and changing lifestyle. Now a presentation through the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (“the Consortium”) offers data on how group visits both expanded access and increased revenues in integrative health services. Meantime, peer-reviewed journal JACM has announced that it is developing an entire Special Focused Issue on Innovation in Group-Delivered Services.
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.