Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a 2013 IOM report concluded; “The United States spends much more money on health care than any other country. Yet, Americans die sooner and experience more illness than residents in many other countries…The nation’s current health trajectory is lower in success and higher in cost than it should be. The cost of inaction is high.”1
With health care costs currently at 2.5 trillion dollars, the cost of inaction is indeed high. While few would argue the benefits of conventional medicine in acute care, it is clear that other Global Healing Traditions which focus on disease prevention and health creation have some very valuable lessons to offer. As think-tanks around the country are struggling to find a solution through technology, accountable care organizations and bundled payment systems the answer is right in front of us.
Integrative Health and Medicine offers a comprehensive prevention-based approach to effectively treat chronic disease and enhance health promotion. Integrative Health and Medicine embraces a multi-disciplinary team of licensed health care providers working at the highest level of their scope of practice. This includes health practitioners such as naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nurse practitioners, nurses, midwives, nutritionists and massage therapists. Although many of these health care practitioners have been lumped into the term complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers, we prefer to use the term Integrative Health and Medicine and refer specifically to the distinct licensed professionals whenever possible. CAM will be used in the traditional sense when citing research studies that used the term. There is no need to “discover” a new model of care through statistical algorithms. Patients who work with Integrative Health and Medicine practitioners are already achieving the Triple Aim: They 1) are healthier, 2) have lower health care costs, and 3) report extremely high levels of patient satisfaction. Through a collaborative approach to health care, integrative health care solutions contribute to the Triple Aim of health care every day. How? This publication, prepared by an expert team of researchers and providers, explores four interrelated ways in which the contributions of these licensed health professionals reduce health care costs.