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Top 10 Reasons to Attend IHPM's Employer-Focused Conference, October 15-17, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Top 10 Reasons to Attend IHPM's Employer-Focused Conference October 15-17, 2008

Summary:  Do you care about access to your services? Then maybe learning the language and culture of the stakeholder that most deterimines access deserves prioritization. "Integrative medicine" will be integrated into the October 15-17 employer-focused conference of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM). But the greater value to the integrative practice community may be venturing into those sections of the conference which are not identifiably "integrative medicine" in order to discover the ways that the thinking of proactive employers may be surprisingly aligned with your own. Here are a Top 10 of reasons for stepping out of your box and attending this conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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integrative medicine, employers, CAM
Seeking to open the exploration
When the not-for-profit Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) chose to sponsor the Integrator last year, our shared goal was to bridge a significant gap. On one side, the potential value of integrative practices is not well-known to employers. On the other, and most to the point for most Integrator readers, few practitioners, clinic managers, association leaders and researchers in the integrative practice community have ever bothered to go to school on the values of this stakeholder. An this is the stakeholder that happens to be the most significant purchaser of health care in the United States. What is that about?

The value in learning to bridge the gap is potentially quite powerful for both stakeholders. As Sean Sullivan, JD, IHPM co-founder and I both hypothesized when we connected nearly a decade ago, the (unrealized) promise of integrative health care may go right to padding the employer's pocketbook.
Employers and integrative practice have a shared focus on wellness and health promotion. Many of the factors linked to the "global costs associated with health" that frame an employer's perspective are exactly the kinds of things that integrative practices claim to address. These include patient empowerment, bettering quality of life, limiting depression, increasing functionality, lowering pain and slowing the use of more expensive tests and procedures.

The October 15-17, 2008 IHPM 8th Annual International Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, provides an exceptional opportunity to go to school on the employer-integrative medicine relationship. Here are a Top 10 of reasons for putting this conference on your calendar and engaging this cross-cultural dialogue.

  1. Image
    NIH NCCAM's Richard Nahin, MPH, PhD
    Some 450-600 employers, employer representatives and their vendors will be on hand with 3 days of presentations, discussions, outcomes and perspectives on what is important to them.
    You'll get a Berlitz course on the language of employers.
  2. Integrative medicine will be a visible theme and part of the opening plenary through a presentation by NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine senior investigator and health services lead Richard Nahin, PhD, MPH. I will have the opportunity to offer some opening remarks.
  3. Access to care. If what you do does not translate to value for the most important purchasers of health care - employers -how can you significantly expand access to your services?
  4. Debra Lerner, MS, PhD, the lead developer of the Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ), the leading instrument for looking at "presenteeism," a productivity measure, will be on hand to present some of the latest findings with the instrument. She'll show some big gains in productivity from a research project that identified the drivers of depression, a leading cause of productivity loss in the workplace, and then developed strategies to treat the condition, which increased gains in productivity as measured by the WLQ.
  5. Image
    Harris Allen, PhD - uses of the Work Limitations Questionnaire
    Consider how the use of a "health risk assessment" (HRA), viewed by employer researchers as not only an information gathering device but also as an intervention, may be a useful part of your intake processes.
  6. Learn  outcomes from an onsite study of a manual therapy, based on Rolfing and using licensed massage therapists, for low back pain used in the workplace by microprocessor giant Intel. The study is described here in the Integrator: IHPM/Employer Focus: Intel Explores Manual Therapies as an Onsite Musculoskeletal Pain Solution, June 22, 2008. Early indications from the study show positive value.
  7. Hear Harris Allen, PhD, from the Yale School of Public Health report on an analysis of how an HRA containing the WLQ affirmed the key role played by health in determining productivity loss and which also identified influences like work/life balance and job characteristics that interacted with health issues to impact productivity.
  8. Listen to Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO present on the integrative oncology approach which is practiced at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Alschuler, formerly a clinician with CTCA, is author of The Definitive Guide to Cancer, which none other than Mehmet Oz, MD is on record as saying he'd read if he had cancer.
  9. Image
    James Prochaska, PhD - readiness for change
    Go to school on efforts to move people toward change through presentations by James Prochaska, PhD, a pioneer in readiness for change research (and one of the 5 most-cited researchers in psychology). Do you know that moving an employee group toward more engagement in healthy practices is an outcome measure that is significant to many employers? Do your therapeutic approaches do this? Prochaska is speaking and offering a special workshop. (For an example of the use of Prochaska's work in the employer environment, see the bottom table at
    Analysis of Noe's Award-Winning Worksite Wellness Program: Making the CAM-IM Employer Connection, June 13, 2006.
  10. Get some basic training on employer practices and perspectives by attending the IHPM pre-conference Academy for Health and Productivity Management and by attending some of the nearly two dozen other presentations not already noted here.
Do we want to increase access to integrative and complementary and alternative practices or don't we? Do we want to see these services better integrated into the onsite programs and employee benefits people receive? If yes, it makes sense that we at least take a Berlitz course on the language of those who hold the purse strings. If not, then let's be honest that access isn't really a significant concern.

Do we want to increase access to integrative and
complementary and alternative practices, or don't we?

If so, it makes sense that we at least take a Berlitz course
on the language of those who hold the purse strings.

If not,
then let's be honest
that access is not a significant concern.


Medical reform in the United States, as a system-wide process, requires us to form new relationships and partnerships. For the first 15 years of its existence, "integrative medicine" focused on building relationships in conventional academic medicine, in hospitals and, to a lesser extent, with insurers. Maybe it is time for researchers, integrative clinic personnel and professional association leaders to spend more energy forging direct relationships with those who, ultimately, pay the piper. The conference is itself a part of that integrative practice-employer bridge. For the IHPM conference brochure, click here. For an IHPM newsletter describing the conference, click here.

Related Integrator articles on the employer-integrative health relationship:

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for inclusion in a future Integrator Blog News & Reports.

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