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Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) Set for New National Action PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC): Leadership in National Action

Summary: Since 1997, individuals currently leading the multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) have taken the lead in a series of national policy actions regarding integrated healthcare. Among these are pushing for the creation of NIH NCCAM, convening national policy and national education dialogues to advance integrated health care, and incubating a new CAM educator consortium. According to board chair, Sheila Quinn, IHPC is poised to play a growing role in promoting policy that can help transform US health care.

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ImageIs a collaborative politics necessary to move the US toward an integrated system which deserves to be called "health care?" Can a team-building, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder model for changing practice in integrated healthcare policy energize our shared, transformative agenda?

For the last eight years, a set of over-lapping circles of integrated healthcare leaders have, by their significant volunteer actions, answered these questions in the affirmative. They convened meetings to clarify policy and education priorities. They jointly pushed key issues, including support for creation of the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and securing representation of CAM professionals in the AMA's CPT process.

Since 2001, these circles of leaders have worked together in as the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC). Their track-record, noted below, is without parallel as an umbrella group for integrated health care action.



Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium

Actions Leading to its Formation
and Key Accomplishments

Preparation of a paper on CAM cost and
effectiveness with former
Congressman Berkley Bedell *

Lobbying and networking to support
establishing the NIH National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine *


Convening of a multi-disciplinary steering committee
to develop a dialogue on integrated care policy*

2001 Convening, at Georgetown University, of 60
representatives of stakeholder organizations
as the National Policy Dialogue (NPD) to Advance
Integrated Care:
Finding Common Ground

Creation of shared funding of the NPD process
through commitments from 10 organizations
founding of Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium
first part-time professional staff, Matt Russell.

Publication of NPD Report

Establishment of IHPC as formal 501C4 entity

(completed in 2003)

2003 Dialogue with American Medical Association
which leads to appointment of ND and LAc
representatives to the AMA's CPT committee

Dialogue with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which
helps provoke more CAM professions review and
involvement in the IOM report on CAM in the US

Gap in funding for IHPC core action leads to period
of all volunteer IHPC leadership,
until mid 2005

 2004 Founding of the National Education
Dialogue (NED) to Advance Integrated Healthcare:
Creating Common Ground

Founding of the Academic Consortium for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Shared funding of educational projects from
organizations representing CAM disciplines,
conventional medical schools, CAM
schools, and foundations

Creates partnership with the Institute for Alternative
, a 501c3 corporation, to serve as fiscal agent
on IHPC's charitable projects
In March, ACCAHC convenes historic face-to-face
meeting of representatives of the councils of colleges
and accrediting agencies of the 5 CAM disciplines
with federally-recognized accrediting agencies

In June, NED convenes 70 educators representing
12 disciplines, also at Georgetown University.
Report published in

Successful fundraising allows first hiring of
IHPC core staff, since late 2003.
Janet Kahn, PhD, NCTMB hired for part-time position.


Under Kahn's leadership, internal restructuring,
clarification of direction

Development of grant funded NED and ACCAHC
projects, focusing on regional partnerships
and useful educational resources.

Convening, through NED, of a reception of the
executive committees of ACCAHC and the
Consortium of Academic Health Centers
for Integrative Medicine

Presentation of two NED-ACCAHC research projects at
the North American Research Conference
on Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Development of IHPC's Federal Policy Task Force.

New IHPC website, September 2006


(*) This early work involved a loose coalition of individuals and organizations.


Sheila Quinn, IHPC board chair
Carrying a Flag for Changing the System

IHPC's track-record will speak to many in the field. For others, I lobbed a question to
Sheila Quinn, IHPC's founding and current board chair. Why should anyone care about what the IHPC is doing?

Quinn's leadership in significant
national developments in integration dates back to 1978, when she served as a co-founder and former vice president of the pioneering, multi-disciplinary institution Bastyr University. She participated in national policy work throughout the mid-1990s as executive director of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Quinn now wears a title of senior editor and special products for the influential teaching center, the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Board of Directors 
Click on name
for bio info

Sheila Quinn
Pamela Snider
Peter Martin
Sherman L. Cohn
Marc Diener
Janet Kahn
Leonard A. Wisneski

Steering Committee

Bob Benson
Candace Campbell
Marc Diener
Aviad Haramati
Janet Kahn
Peter Martin
Adam Perlman
Sheila Quinn
Pamela Snider
Micheal Traub
John Weeks
Note: IHPC's other
teams include groups
of 15-25 for NED, for
ACCAHC and as an
additional advisory
group for IHPC.

Quinn drew a breath: "IHPC matters because our mission is about changing the healthcare system. The whole structure has to be on the patient's side. I care about the patient's side. I speak as a patient, knowing that we will all eventually be patients. Fortunately, (the IHPC) is blessed with having the participation of most of the key stakeholders that are necessary to create such a change. I am not sure there are other organizations with that focus or breadth of participation."

Quinn traces IHPC's core development to the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Care: Finding Common Ground, in 2001. She calls it a "peak experience for many of us." Interested participants continued the work as part of the IHPC, which was organized in the excitement following the NPD meeting. Recommendations in the
NPD report continue to shape IHPC health policy priorities for education, research and delivery of care.

Work on one important NPD recommendation began to be realized by IHPC in 2004 with the initiation of the National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care: Creating Common Ground.  That work has been honored by, Stuart Bondurant, MD, the chair of the Institute of Medicine's exploration of CAM in the United States, as "great collaborative work - one of the most significant things anyone has done to implement (the IOM's recommendations)." (For the NED Progress Report on March 2004-September 2005 action, click here.)

Quinn highlights a third "really important thing" accomplished by IHPC in its first half decade: the founding of the Academic Consortium of Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC). She views it as both a "counterweight" to the conventional academic consortium, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and as a means for engaging many key players in an ongoing dialogue. She also sees ACCAHC, developing under the leadership of Pamela Snider, ND, as a way of empowering some of the (CAM) disciplines "to reduce their sense of isolation." Quinn thanks ACCAHC's benefactor Lucy Gonda for the seed funding of ACCAHC's first two years.

Hopeful about the Future

IHPC's finances have, like those of many CAM organizations, featured a more significant portion of mission-directon sweat-equity than many would have liked. Bucks have been tight. (3) Multiple organizations contributed. Initial funding - for but a part time director - ran out in early 2004. IHPC continued its work without funded core staff until mid-2005.

Janet Kahn, PhD, NCTMB
The turning point for IHPC's support was a $10,000/year grant for three years from Thorne Research. "Thorne's commitment was a timely gift that made a huge difference," recalls Quinn. With additional grants from other organizations, IHPC was able to bring well-known integration leader, massage therapist and researcher Janet Kahn, PhD, into a part-time position as executive director. Kahn's contributions to CAM-IM include serving served on the national advisory council for the NIH NCCAM and as a reviewer of the IOM's CAM report. IHPC targets funding Kahn at 50%-60% FTE in calendar year 2007.

Says Quinn: "Janet contributes both pragmatism and vision. She's willing to tackle whatever needs tackling." She ticks off the mundane accomplishments of Kahn's first year as she's strengthened IHPC's foundation: development of policies and procedures, including conflict of interest; strengthened financial management; stable steering committee; development of the Federal Policy Task Force and initial work in clarifying its priorities; expanding the board of directors; and getting the IHPC website up. IHPC has joined the Coalition for Patients Rights, established to counter the AMA's Scope of Practice Campaign to restrict practice rights of other providers.

Says Quinn: "We'll end the year in the black and with a good fundraising plan outlined. We have begun to equip ourselves to take on future plans in a systematic and sustainable fashion."

She reflects: "
We're a national network that's supra-disciplinary. We're carrying a flag into battle that most give up on before they start. But many of us want to engage this change work. We provide pathways for people who care about system change to meet and collaborate. We invite others to become involved." Click here to explore ways to involve oneself in IHPC's work.

Comments: Politics, ultimately, is about counting votes. At key moments, you either have them or you don't. So if one is, say, passionately interested in transforming US medicine into a system of health care, and muses on the policy changes that mighty upheaval will take, the reality hits: We're going to need to win a lot of votes!

ImageNow, if you are like most of this grandiosity-riddled (addled?) community of integrated health care transformers (alas, this is a self-description), you likely have to search out the dollars to even get you to Washington, DC. Your national organization doesn't have much, if anything, in the way of a full-time lobbyist. And your most savvy politicos have just begun to muster the gawd-awful slush funds that fuel Congressional action. Then you have to look down the barrel of this gun: There is a $1.7-trillion medical industry with its pawns, rooks and bishops positioned to make sure the policies that river dollars into this sick-care chaos don't divert anything too much.

At these deer-in-the-headlights moments, I think of two things. First, the soundness of the ideas and approaches we support. Second, how large bodies of humanity, acting together, have made great and important changes.

Can we do what we need to do without practicing smart, strategic coalition and consortial action? The answer is no. Has the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium earned a place as a vessel for our shared, future activity? The answer is yes. Take a look: www.ihpc.info.

Disclosure note: I am deeply enmeshed here. I fundraised the funding of IHPC's first executive director. I am a volunteer member of both the IHPC's steering committee and on the ACCAHC executive committee. I had the pleasure of being a sometimes-paid organizer of the IHPC's NED project. (Starting January 2007, virtually all of my work will be in an unpaid capacity, as it has been through 2006.)

This is not a conflict of interest statement. It is an alignment of interest statement.
I personally believe that these kinds of consortial actions are critical to our future. The Integrator will report IHPC's actions, with of course the reserved right to comment and disagree from time to time! I will also happily report collaborative work from any other national initiatives. Let me know if I am, missing something.

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