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Institute for Health & Productivity Management - Integrative/Complementary Healthcare
IHPM's Employer-Focused Conference Features CAM/Integative Medicine Track PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Are Your Services Good for Health and Productivity? IHPM's Employer-Focused Conference Includes Focus on Integrative Medicine and Complementary Healthcare Strategies

Summary: Integrative medicine leaders have identified employers as the healthcare stakeholder, next to consumers, with the strongest alignment of economic interest with the advance of integrative medicine, complementary and integrated health care. All aspects of that potent connection can be explored at the October 17-19, 2007 conference of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM). IHPM will offer a multi-segment track on Integrative/Complementary Healthcare, co-chaired by Brent Bauer, MD, integrative medicine leader with Mayo Clinic. Mayo and the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans are co-sponsoring the meeting. Attendees with a stake in integrated care will have a chance to deeply explore the most progressive, global thinking about an employer's investment in healthcare. Check it out!

1.   So Why Care About Some Meeting of Large Employers, Anyway?

Instituteue for Health and Productivity Management, integrative medicien conference, employers
Institute for Health and Productivity Management, conference lead sponsor
If you were to rank the following healthcare stakeholders for the alignment of their economic interest with the advance of integrative/complementary healthcare, in what order would you rank them?

  • Hospitals/health systems
  • Employers
  • Public health/government
  • Consumers
  • Insurers/managed care?

In April 2001, in a poll prior to an Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summit, the 110 participants from diverse stakeholders groups were asked to ranked these stakeholders. Their top two:
  1. Consumers
  2. Employers
The 90 respondents placed the employer a strong second, behind only integrative/complementary health care's best friend, the consumer. Those placing the employer #1 or #2 more than doubled those who marked hospitals/health systems and those who marked insurers/managed care in the two highest places.

The keys to the employer's high ranking are emerging concepts in employer thinking. Instead of viewing health insurance as merely an expense on their bottom line, some employers view insurance as just a part of their investment in the health of their employees. These employers recognize that certain factors in the global costs of poor health in employees - decreased productivity, absenteeism, turnover, poor quality of life, chronic pain - are far more costly to a company than their direct medical expenditures or insurance coverage alone.

Meantime, progressively-minded integrative and complementary healthcare interests are realizing that the employer's global agenda is right up their alley. After all, quality of life, being able to get around better, backing off the use of medications with debilitating side effects, and limiting pain are among integrated care's promises. Can it be that mission and money can be aligned here?

What has been needed is a good, cross-cultural exploration between employers and integrative medicine and complementary healthcare interests to examine the potential in these relationships.

2.   The IHPM Integrative/Complementary Healthcare Track

Sean Sullivan, JD, IHPM co-founder, employers anbd integrative medicine cost effectiveness
Sean Sullivan, JD, IHPM co-founder
Sean Sullivan, JD
, the co-founder of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) has been intrigued about the potential value of the integrative medicine/employee health and productivity connection since at least 1999. I interviewed him for a hard-copy Integrator story. We began to connect the dots.
In 2000 and 2002, Sullivan had IHPM co-sponsor two of the Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summits referenced above.

Sullivan is known as a practical visionary in healthcare. He played a lead role 20 years ago in fostering more employer participation in shaping healthcare. He served as the founding president of the National Business Coalition on Health. In 1997, Sullivan co-founded IHPM, which has
served as "a catalyst and champion of an expanding international movement to make health a leading human capital asset for the 21st century," according to IHPM's website.

A more recent constellation of interests prompted IHPM to offer a formal track on integrative and complementary healthcare for IHPM's October 17-19 conference. IHPM is partnering on the conference with Mayo Clinic Health Solutions. Mayo has a growing program in integrative medicine led by Brent Bauer, MD. Bauer is a co-chair of the track.

Another factor is that some corporations active with IHPM are also part of the Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP), led by Kenneth Pelletier, PhD, MD (hc). CHIP,
housed at the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, is focusing on integrative medicine strategies in its present, third phase of employer programs. (See "Pelletier-Weil Program Has Major Employers Exploring Integrative Medicine Approaches.")

Pelletier, an Integrator advisor, will offer a keynote at the meeting to highlight the integrative and complementary healthcare track.
Among the track presentations will be offerings by a second co-chair, Walter Talamonti, MD, with Ford Motor. Ford is an active player in CHIP. The third co-chair is Roger Jahnke, OMD, an author and consultant.

IHPM conference:
Making Employees Partners in Health and Productivity Management
Integrative/Complementary Healthcare Track

October 17-19, 2007
Scottsdale, Arizona

 Sponsor   Pfizer 

  • Brant Bauer, MD, Mayor Clinic
  • Walt Talamonti, MD, Ford Motor
  • Roger Jahnke, OMD, Institute of
        Integral Qigong and Tai Chi


Kenneth Pelletier, PhD,
MD (hc)

Integrative Health Management: Extending
the Boundaries (Keynote)

Walt Talamonti, MD

  Musculoskeletal Pain Study at Ford Motor
Using Acupuncture

Brent Bauer, MD   Integrative/Complementary Health Care
Research and Practice at Mayo
Case Study, TBA  
Smoking Cessation: Renewing Employer
Workplace Efforts Against Public Health
Enemy Number One

 Laura McKibbin, RN   Award-Winning “Kailo” Health and Wellness
Program at Mercy Medical Center in Iowa

 Roger Jahnke, OMD
  Integrating the Best of Eastern and Western
Health Practices


3.   And the Rest of the Conference: A Cross-Cultural Engagement

Kenneth Pelletier, PhD, CHIP, employers, cost-savings integrative medicine
Keynoter Kenneth Pelletier, PhD
The Integrative/Complementary Healthcare Track is a first for IHPM and will be an introduction for many employers. However, the rest of the program content may be particularly intriguing for the integrative or complementary care interests who wish to better understand employer language and thinking on these topics.

  • A pre-conference session, Health & Productivity Management 101, will introduce newcomers to the field.
  • Researchers and individuals interested in outcomes will gain from IHPM's focus on data collection and measurement tools
  • Other panels provide insights into optimal primary care practices from a en employer perspective. The Integrator explored this topic in Proposed Employer-Physician "Contract" Suggests Cost-Case for CAM-IM
  • http://theintegratorblog.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87&Itemid=93
  • Practical applications, with numerous case studies.
  • Explore aspects of a corporate culture that are conducive to more progressive integration of health and productivity initiatives.

The conference will also provide an opportunity for immersion in another culture, contacts, chance encounters and the fast learning that will come with attendance at such a meeting. IHPM's Deborah Love told the Integrator that roughly 500 people typically attend these conferences.

Comment: Many of us see ourselves as creative, out-of-the-box, thinkers and actors.
Yet most of us in integrated care, when we look beyond the consumer stakeholder, focus our energies on creating relationships with hospitals and insurers - stakeholders with whom our economic alignment is often extremely low. Our history is strewn with stories of the challenges and failures that have come from operating in an environment where what we offer can be economically problematic. Put bluntly, hospital executives and surgeons who have a huge investment in their tertiary care complex are not likely to aggressively promote services which focus on keeping people out of the hospital's surgical suites.

The identification of the potential employer/integrative healthcare alignment urges us out of these boxes.
The employer has a strong interest in keeping people healthy and out of those suites. Do you have a practice or a service which can keep people healthy or bring them back to health and a better relationship with themselves - and potentially diminish their need for high cost services and procedures? The connection is, evidence in hand, as simple as that.

Ironically, while we may see ourselves as creative actors, few of us actually get out of our boxes to engage the potential of this cross-cultural alignment with employers. Pelletier has long been in the forefront of this work. The IHPM experiment with an integrative medicine track is another step in the right direction.

For out-of-the-box thinkers in integrative care, this conference promises to be an excellent Berlitz course for exploring this connection. If you have any inkling to go, give into it and go! What is it the I Ching says: It furthers one to cross the great water.

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