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Michael Levin PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Columns and Commentary from Michael Levin, Integrator Editorial Adviser

Michael D. Levin
Founder, Health Business Strategies

Michael Levin
Michael is a cross-over professional. His business insights are deeply steeped in conventional pharmaceuticals and medical technology, formed through a first career which included a stint as a vice president with Baxter Healthcare. For most of the last decade, Michael has held executive positions with natural products companies including Tyler Encapsulations and Cardinal Nutrition. He has a passion for the development of the integrated health care industry, seeing that if people aren't making much money that growth will be slow! Michael has been quite useful on both natural product quality issues and on the potential cost savings from better integration of natural therapeutics.
To contact Michael:

Michael D. Levin
, Founder
Health Business Strategies
12042 SE Sunnyside Road
Clackamas, OR  97015
503-753-3568 (direct)
503-698-7565 (fax)


September 13, 2014

Michael Levin on Academic Medicine and Hospitals in Their Campaign to Protect the Medical Industry

Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin read the brief in the August 2014 Integrator Round-up entitled "Hospital group begins campaign promoting its role disease as an economic engine." The subject is an organization of U.S. hospitals and academic health centers, the Coalition to Protect America's Health Care (CPAH). The organization was created to protect economic life as hospitals know it. Their strategy leads with calling attention to the jobs they create and their economic impact on communities. I questioned whether this strategy is ethical of nominally "healthcare" organizations. Levin, the founder of the Health Business Strategies consultancy, dives into CPAH and share details: over $14-million of marketing and lobbying revenues from 2011-2013. He particularly notes the role of academic health centers in this self-protective work.

December 16, 2012

Columnist Michael Levin: Finding Opportunity for Integrative Medicine Amidst Healthcare Chaos - The Concierge Model

Healthcare business strategist and Integrator columnist Michael Levin was one of the earliest players in the integrative health field who sought to focus attention on the importance of establishing the business case for integration and inclusion. With a background as an executive in both Pharma and natural products companies, Levin's early focus was on pharmacy substitution strategies. Business models were needed to require payers to explore. Here Levin speaks to another sort of business model, this time extolling a direction that is outside the box of the payment system.

March 14, 2012

Integrator Forum: 7 Voices on Whether the Bravewell's "Integrative Medicine in America" Portrays What the Title Advertises

No one doubts whether the Bravewell Collaborative's new mapping study added useful understanding of the nation's health system-sponsored and academic health center-sponsored integrative clinics. But do these thumbnails, reports and tables on these 29 clinics capture what the title suggests: Integrative Medicine in America: How Integrative Medicine is Being Practiced in the United States? I posed the question. Here are responses from: public health acupuncturist and researcher Beth Sommers, MPH, LAc, PhD; holistic medical doctor Bill Manahan, MD; Integrator columnist Michael Levin; rehab specialist and past American Association of Medical Acupuncturists board member Mitchell Prywess, MD; an anonymous integrative MD; National University of Health Sciences president Jim Winterstein, DC; and senior editor of the Textbook of Functional Medicine Sheila Quinn. I conclude with my own speculations on what might be different in community-based integrative medicine.

July 26, 2011

Reader Forum: Manahan, Kahn, Foley, Winterstein, Bolles, Levin, Olejownik, Fonfa, Sabin, Rohleder, Keating

Correction: Dr. Roger Rogers after whom the Dr. Rogers Prize is named is alive ... Bill Manahan, MD on pain treatment, CAM and the IOM pain blueprint ... Janet Kahn, PhD on key Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium language in the National Prevention Strategy ... Ann Fonfa comments on sham acupuncture in the IOM blueprint ... Jean Keating, PharmD speaks up for independent pharmacists ... Glenn Sabin offers an informed patient's view on Freedman's Atlantic article  ... Jim Winterstein, DC speaks to a value in the term "alternative medicine" ... Jennifer Olejownik, PhD on the current state of integration ... Chris Foley, MD and Stephen Bolles, DC on "patient-centered care" and "code-centered care" ... Michael Levin of Health Business Strategies on the characteristics of Primary Care 2025 ... Lon Jones, DO and Common Sense Medicine weigh in on the future of primary care ... Lisa Rohleder, LAc offers a useful rant against protective guild behavior

August 28, 2011

Michael Levin and Stephen Bolles: FICO's Data Grabbing, Medical Improvement and Consumer Choice of Alternative Medicine

The stories of patients arriving at doors of integrative practitioner offices with avoidance of prescriptions as their motivation are legion. In an earlier column, Stephen Bolles, DC challenged the move of credit rating firm FICO into drug adherence monitoring in part for its failure to appreciate what may be called positive non-adherence. In this exchange, Integrator columnist Michael Levin notes the substantial estimates of harm from non-adherence. His take is friendlier toward FICO's intent. Bolles responds, and Levin replies. It's a complicated exchange in which paradigms collide. I add a couple comments.

December 29, 2010

Columnist Michael Levin: Compilation of 4 Years of Integrator Commentaries & Perspectives  

Making the cost case. A decade ago, now Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin and I connected on this theme. Levin's passion for the topic was, and remains, informed by experience of conventional medical stakeholder perspectives, in part due to his own background as executive with pharma, medical devices and more recently, with supplement companies. Presently a consultant to the field, Levin published his first Integrator column in January 2007 and has fashioned 20 columns and short commentaries since. His contributions are frequently stimulated by news items that underscore the importance of the economic argument for integrative and wellness practices. A second regular theme relates to issues surrounding natural products. Levin's value to the Integrator is less visible but also considerable in the numerous news items and studies he has sent my way through the years. It is a pleasure to make his contributions visible.
October 26, 2010

Reader Forum: Levin, Forbes, Rohleder, Calabrese, Stumpf, Holmes and Taylor on Integrator Themes

A nice mix of themes and responses here: Michael Levin on the Seely-Herman research on cost savings of whole practice ND care for Canada Post employees; AHMA president David Forbes, MD on the NCCAM priorities; short notes on the Georgetown-Bastyr relationship promoted by Adi Haramati, PhD; Barney Holmes on biases relative to alternative medicine in Wikipedia; Carlo Calabrese, ND, MPH on what "CAM" fields have in common according to Wikipedia; Community Acupuncture Network co-founder Lisa Rohleder, LAc, AOM educator Steven Stumpf, EdD and AOM student Leah Taylor on the incomes of licensed acupuncturists as reported by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, plus a brief note from an anonymous naturopathic physician who believes that her profession has a similarly challenged economic perch. I comment on the link between Levin/Forbes and the income discussion.

September 2010

Levin Comments: Australian report finds cost benefits from acupuncture and natural product interventions

The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), established with seed funding provided by the Australian Government and a New South Wales governmental agency has published a recent report that found cost effectiveness for most of the handful of therapies examined. The agency sent a September 13, 2010 press release entitled Economic report finds complementary medicine could ease health budget. Integrator columnist and adviser Levin, in his commentary, notes that "If the presenteeism and absenteeism costs of low-back pain are averted, the benefits from acupuncture would double."

June 3, 2010

Michael Levin: Opportunities for Integrative Medicine in MedCo Study of Pharma in Treatment of Children 

A disturbing new report from Medco documents the growing use of major pharmaceuticals in the treatment of children. Use with childhood chronic diseases is highlighted with a particular area of concern the drug treatment of Type 2 diabetes associated with childhood obesity. Integrator columnist Michael Levin, a healthcare consultant with Health Business Strategies, seizes on the report's recommendation that "health plans actively promote lifestyle change." Levin urges the right integrative medicine entrepreneurs to step up to a potentially lucrative business opportunity.

March 6, 2010

Integrator Columnist Michael Levin on the McCain-Dorgan Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010; McCain Backing Down

The "McCain Bill,"as it quickly became known, has stirred up a furor in the integrative practice and natural products communities. Practitioner, consumer and industry interests are peppering their lists with alerts about a proposed bill which they argue will increase regulatory burden, limit access to supplements and significantly increase costs. US Senator John McCain used the Senator floor to take on the arguments of his opponents. Major league sports are backing McCain. The proposal is called the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010. Here are links to key viewpoints followed by a critical analysis from Integrator columnist Michael Levin whose professional career spans executive positions in big Pharma and the supplements industry. He offers a useful regulatory strategy by focusing on the narrows of the production river. (Note: At publication time word arrived that McCain was backing down.) More

October 26, 2009

Bipartisan Push Heats Debate on Financial Incentives for Wellness: Good for Integrative Practice?

Passage of a bipartisan amendment from US Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Tom Carper (D-DE) has elevated a debate Integrator columnist Michael Levin has repeated brought to these pages. To change behavior, in Levin's view, "education rarely works, economics usually does." The Ensign-Carper amendment allow health plan costs to be cut by as much as 50% for those who engage healthy behaviors. Some unions and major disease-based organizations are opposed. Employers tend to support the direction, as Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD, MD(hc) and Sean Sullivan, JD, each share. A tremendous discussion has been kindled on the Washington Post site. Levin lays out what he believes are significant opportunities for the integrative medicine community. Where are you on this issue of patient engagement, habit change, healthcare economics and public policy?

September 27, 2009

Columnist Michael Levin: Author Michael Pollan's View of Insurance Reform Supports Investment in Integrative Practices

In a recent column in the New York Times, author Michael Pollan pits big food vs. big insurance, arguing that the elephant in the room in healthcare reform is obesity, and that the solution comes to slimming down. Integrator columnist Michael Levin finds in Pollan's perspective evidence that key characteristics of current insurance reform efforts create financial incentives that support investment in integrative practices. One wonders, with Pollan, whether "Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry." Yet Levin's argument is clear that we may be seeing changes that could stimulate investment in therapeutic approaches which support habit change. Will these changes incentivize insurers to finally invest significantly in health creation?

April 14, 2009

Columnist Michael Levin: Pepsico May be Our Guru on How to Reduce Behavior-based Healthcare Costs

Did you know that Pepsico is threatening to move all its operations out of New York if the state passes a "sin-tax" on soda pop? Integrator columnist Michael Levin recognized in this story that the giant firm has a rather strong perspective on whether economic incentives can be a powerful stimulus for behavior change. Levin uses the story to wade into questions raised in a recent British Medical Journal article on what it will take for people to make healthy decisions. Fascinating piece. Levin invites you to weigh in on the topic. More

January 14, 2009

Columnist Michael Levin: California’s Attorney General Takes Action Against Supplement Companies

Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin reports on a recent California action, under Proposition 65, against 56 dietary supplement companies. The issue is a level of lead in their products which required informing their customers. Levin uses the column to remind clinicians and administrators of the importance of vigilance of supplement manufacturers about the extent of their quality control plans. The story was brought to Levin's attention through Michael McGuffin and the American Herbal Products Association. More ...

October 3, 2008

Michael Levin: On Globalization, Melamine Contamination and Responsibilities of Integrative Practitioners

Integrator adviser and columnist Michael Levin often speaks to us from the discomforting chasm between the aspirations of integrative medicine and current realities regarding the natural healthcare products which most integrative practitioners prescribe in their offices. Here, Levin focuses on "economic adulteration" of dietary supplements in the recent story of melamine contamination of infant formulas which caused sickness and death in China. What are the integrative practitioner's responsibilities in raising the bar? More ...

July 10, 2008

Michael Levin: Statins for 8-year-olds and Mayo Clinic's Whole Practice, Integrative Treatment

The big medical news just after Independence Day was that, following new American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, thousands of children will soon be dependent on statins for cholesterol management. Integrator columnist Michael Levin muses on this news together with a virtually unnoticed whole system, integrative Mayo Clinic study which found that lifestyle, supplements, diet and yoga or Tai chi not only lowered cholesterol but also weight and who knows what other positive outcomes. Are statins parenting replacement therapies? More ...

June 20, 2008

Columnist Levin:  $24-Billion Savings through Supplement Interventions Says Lewin Group

Integrator columnist Michael Levin recently had occasion to read a series of reports, prepared by the internationally-known health care consulting firm, The Lewin Group. The subject: possible cost impact of pro-actively using a few dietary supplement interventions for a handful of conditions. The outcomes were compelling. Levin argues that this kind of work, funded by the dietary supplement industry, exemplifies forward thinking collaborative effort needed to advance the integrative and natural health fields. The story of this strategic funding will be familiar to chiropractic. More ...

June 5, 2008

Columnist Michael Levin: Deloitte Survey of Health Consumers Offers Insights for Integrative Medicine

Integrator columnist Michael Levin shares intriguing outcomes of a healthcare survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The authors examine opinions and practices of over 3000 consumers, identifying use of alternative healthcare services as a key identifier of behavior across a series of consumer types. The six types range from "content and compliant" to "out and about" (the most significant alt-med users) to "shop and save." Current complementary medicine use represents a fraction of the openness expressed by these consumers. Paul Keckley, PhD, co-author and director of the Center was formerly the head of integrative medicine planning for Vanderbilt University. Levin is correct: there is much here to ponder about integrative care and the changing nature of the healthcare consumer. More ...

April 15, 2008

Columnist Michael Levin: Opportunities for Integrative Medicine in a Recent AARP Report on Drug Price Escalation

Integrator columnist Michael Levin, founder of Health Business Strategies, is a long-time promoter of integrative medicine strategies that challenge the often costly, unsafe and quality of life-damaging interventions promoted by Big Pharma. So when Levin, who has been an executive with both pharmaceutical and dietary supplement firms, saw the new AARP report on drug price trends pre and post the implementation of the Medicare Drug Benefit, he analyzed it both for what Pharma had already extracted, and for what integrative medicine might. Here is Levin's brief report and view of opportunities. More ...

February 18, 2008

Levin Investigates the Status of Natural Products Quality Initiatives

Most integrative practitioners and consumers have some awareness that various forms of certification of product quality are increasingly available to natural products firms. Integrator adviser Michael Levin looks into the dependability of such certification. He begins with a comment from Alan Greenspan on trust, then goes down the rabbit hole into issues surrounding United States Pharmacopoeia, and the major supplement manufacturer Leiner. It's a fascinating and sobering journey. More ...

December 12, 2007

Integrator Columnist: Michael Levin on CAM Practitioners & Natural Products Companies

There is no question that the holistic, naturopathic, Oriental, chiropractic and integrative medicine professions are in bed with pharmaceutical companies ... natural pharma, that is. The question is, how is this relationship best effected? Put differently, can these professions avoid the pitfalls of the MD-Big Pharma marriage and take advantage of each other's strengths? In this third column in an ongoing series on the topic begun by David Matteson, Integrator adviser Michael Levin - who has held executive positions for both Big Pharma and natural products firms - weighs in on the issue. More ...

September 7, 2007

Integrator Adviser Levin on Dietary Supplements and the FDA's cGMPs: What  Defines "Quality?" - a 2nd Look

Integrator adviser Michael Levin continues with his analysis and commentary on the
current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) finally published by the US Food and Drug Administration. In this take, looks at how the industry and the FDA have defined "quality" and finds out they are not aligned. What does this mean for practitioners and consumers? Levin brings it all home for ginger lovers with his analysis of a July 2007 action on imported ginger by a California regulatory agency. He credits AHPA, the herb industry organization, for its demand that the FDA set the bar higher, and offers a forecast. More ...

August 24, 2007

Your Comments: 3 on the Chrysler group services; COCSA/AMI partnership; case for an integrated asthma pathway and more on Hurley's campaign against supplements

The story on the success of a group-focused services clinical strategy for a Chrysler employee population led by Robert Levine, PhD, for Henry Ford Health Systems (HFHS), prompted Lisa Rohleder, LAc, with the Community Acupuncture Network (CAN) to stimulate a dialogue and real-time link with Levine in the CAN Blog. The HFHS outcomes promoted Adrian Langford, who runs a patient-focused program with a Medicaid population with Alternative Medicine Integration Group to comment on what promotes the positive patient outcomes. Taylor Walsh wonders at the use by Karlo Berger, ABT, LMT, of "collective healing" to describe some of the power of these setting ... In other notes, the COCSA-AMI relationship stimulated a note from COCSA executive director Janet Jordan ... Chris Huson, LAc opens a dialogue about a suggested integrated pathway for asthma and Rik Cederstrom , DC, responds to another attack on supplements by author Michael Hurley, this one broadcast for Medscape plus comments from Michael Levin. More ...

August 3, 2007

Integrator Adviser Speaks: Levin on the Impact of the FDA's GMPs on the Dietary Supplement Industry

The natural products industry in the United States has a boatload of stories of businesses started in homes and garages that grew to become dominant players. The Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for dietary supplements document recently issued by the FDA promises to significant change the terrain. What effect will it have on the industry? Integrator adviser Michael Levin addresses this topic in Part 2 of his analysis of the cGMPs. Levin also addresses questions regarding his first article which were raised by Michael McGuffin, executive director of the American Herbal Products Association. More ...

July 14, 2007 - Bastille Day

After a 12 years of unsteady and politicized process, the US Food and Drug Administration last month finally issued its new Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements. Integrator advisor Michael Levin is making his way through the 831 pages of the GMP document. In this Part #1 filing for the Integrator, Levin reveals a strange conceptual approach to GMPs which will allow companies to make claims that sound equivalent (ie, "we follow GMPs") which actually give the consumer no information about the quality of the products. For those wishing to know more about the likely impact of the GMP on consumers and manufacturers, a September 13-14 conference led by Loren Israelsen and the United Natural Products Alliance will explore the full meaning of the new GMP. More ...

May 9, 2007

Integrator Adviser Speaks: Levin on Whether Supplement Quality May be Influencing Clinical Outcomes 

Another recent Integrator post reports outcomes of a survey of media coverage of dietary supplements in 2006. The outcomes were not pretty for the industry. Integrator editorial adviser Michael Levin noted two recent reports, both on chondroitin, which might explain some of that negativity. Levin, who has held executive level positions for both Big Pharma and supplement companies, focuses on a quality and potency study and an efficacy study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Is there a useful pattern emerging? More ...

January 20, 2007

Disquieting Journalistic Ethics: Michael Levin Challenges New York Times and Dietary Supplement Basher Dan Hurley

On January 16, the New York Times published an essay by supplement-bashing author Dan Hurley entitled "Dietary Supplements and Safety: Some Disquieting Data." Michael Levin, an Integrator advisor who has held executive level positions in both pharmaceutical and dietary supplement companies, immediately researched Hurley's core assertions and discredited them. Here is the full letter to the editor which Levin has shipped off to the New York Times. Are clear thinking and accuracy of interest to this staid daily? Truth is presently again a casualty in Hurley's war against supplements.

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