Today, five vibrant national organizations represent the interests of practitioners and consumers who support integrative healthcare. That's a big change from 15 years ago, when the national healthcare environment was dominated by associations representing individual healthcare professions, each in its own silo. Today, we benefit from organizations that support collaboration and interprofessional education, communicate with each other regularly, and cooperate on important projects. Given the current ferment and uncertainty about the future of healthcare in the United States, we're fortunate to have the following organizations speaking strongly in support of integrative care:
- Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH, formerly known as ACCAHC),
- Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM),
- Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC),
- Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health (ACIMH, formerly known as the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine), and
- Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US).
Recently, Liza Goldblatt, PhD, MPA/HA, shared information with Townsend Letter readers about several current collaborative projects supporting integrative care. She is the interim executive director of ACIH and previously chaired its board for eight years. Goldblatt anticipates returning to the board as a founding board member after ACIH completes its search for a new executive director.
"We now have five major national organizations that are involved in integrative health and medicine talking with each other on a continuing and regular basis," she says. "We plan to collaborate and/or partner on appropriate national issues and activities. For example, we currently face a serious national crisis on opioid overuse, and this is an area where integrative care has a great deal to contribute."
A Milestone for Integrative Medicine and Health
One current priority is the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, an ongoing project of the National Academies of Sciences, Health and Medicine Division (HMD, previously known as the Institute of Medicine). The forum brings together stakeholders from many professions to network and discuss health professional education and the broader issues that affect healthcare such as the social determinants of health. It has over 60 members, and all the major national US health organizations send representatives to these bi-annual meetings, plus some international ones as well.
The Global Forum's guiding principles emphasize engaging students, faculty and administrators, focusing on team-based patient- and person-centered care, and creating an environment of learning with and from partners outside the United States. Forum-sponsored events are open to the public and are available via webinar.
ACIH has been participating in Global Forum meetings for the past six years. "One of our main roles there is to continually emphasize the importance of focusing on prevention, health and well-being, not just treating existing diseases and conditions, but also having a major focus on health," Goldblatt says.
The Global Forum holds two workshops each year, on a wide range of subjects. ACIH representatives – Goldblatt and John Weeks – encourage the forum to share information about integrative health disciplines and their benefits. "We provide them with a range of materials, and explain why integrative care is so valuable. Over the last six years, we have been educating them on the disciplines we represent and the importance of health and well-being. Our hard work has paid off," Goldblatt says. "They recently agreed to present a day-and-a-half workshop in 2018 on ways to build resilience, health and well-being and prevent burn-out." In coming months, Goldblatt and other interprofessional leaders will work with the Global Forum to develop plans for the 2018 workshop. This is a real milestone for the integrative medicine and health movement.
University of Arizona Offers Online Course on Integrative Care
The ACIMH, the University of Arizona, ACIH, IM4US and other integrative organizations have developed an online course on integrative primary care. The University of Arizona coordinated a process that brought together many different disciplines to develop a list of meta-competencies all health providers should know about integrative healthcare. "First we developed the list of meta-competencies for all of the disciplines represented in this project, and then based on that we developed the curriculum," Goldblatt explains. (See chart of meta-competencies below.)
The new course includes units on prevention and lifestyle behavior change, healthcare professionals' wellbeing, addressing patients through an integrative lens, integrative interventions, and community settings. "The course has been available for educational institutions over the past few months and will soon be available to all individual health professionals," Goldblatt says. "Currently, there is no charge for the 45-hour course." For more details, see the Resources section below.
ACIH and the Academic Consortium plan to collaborate on several projects in 2017-2018. One likely project will involve creating a national course that will train students and practitioners from the ACIH disciplines how to work in interprofessional integrative teams in conventional medical settings. This course will bring together conventional medicine and integrative health providers and prepare them to work together in in-patient and out-patient settings.
In addition, ACIH is about to publish the third edition of its Clinicians' and Educators' Desk Reference on the Licensed Complementary and Alternative Healthcare Professions (CEDR). This text offers a broad summary of essential information on each of the five licensed integrative health and medicine (previously called 'CAM') professions: acupuncture and Oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, direct-entry midwifery, and naturopathic medicine. It also includes shorter sections on several emerging fields. Many academic courses now use the CEDR as a reference. "We are currently doing the final edits," Goldblatt says. "We're making sure all the data is current and that any significant changes in the disciplines and organizations are recorded. Frequent updates are essential to maintain the CEDR as a useable reference."
There are so many exciting developments underway in integrative healthcare that our discussion with Goldblatt only scratches the surface. Very few of us would be able to monitor all of these activities in detail, but see the Resources for websites where we can track future developments in each area over time.
Integrative Health Meta-Competencies for Primary Care Professionals
- Practice patient-centered and relationship-based care.
- Obtain an integrative health history which includes mind-body-spirit, nutrition, and the use of both conventional and integrative therapies.
- Collaborate with individuals and families to develop a personalized plan of care to promote health and well-being that incorporates integrative approaches, including lifestyle counseling and the use of mind-body strategies.
- Demonstrate skills in understanding and utilizing the evidence as it pertains specifically to integrative healthcare.
- Demonstrate basic knowledge on the major health professions both integrative and conventional.
- Facilitate behavior change in individuals, families, and communities.
- Work effectively as a member of an interprofessional team.
- Practice self-care.
- Demonstrate skills to incorporate integrative healthcare into community settings and into the healthcare system at large.
- Incorporate ethical standards of practice into all interactions with individuals, organizations, and communities.
Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health www.integrativehealth.org
Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) https://www.aihm.org/
Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) http://www.ihpc.org/
Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health https://www.imconsortium.org/
Clinicians' and Educators' Desk Reference on the Licensed Complementary and Alternative Healthcare Professions (CEDR).
Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education
All publications are available as free downloads.
National Center for Integrative Primary Healthcare (NCIPH)
Sign up on their mailing list to receive notices when the course becomes available to individual healthcare professionals.
Elaine Zablocki is the former editor of CHRF News Files.