Author Believes Complementary and Alternative Medicine Belong in CCOs
OPINION – March 7, 2012 -- Oregon is on the cusp of major reforms to its health care system. One of the key changes citizens can expect is the introduction of Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), initially for Oregon Health Plan members.
CCOs are designed to remove barriers and increase quality for patients seeking health care services by coordinating services at a local level. Ideally, Coordinated care organizations will create an environment where all providers involved in an individual’s care have access to all the information necessary to ensure that services are not duplicated and complement, rather than take away from, the patient’s overall health and wellness. This is expected to lead to significant cost savings and increased patient satisfaction and health.
In October of 2011, the state of Oregon conducted several well-attended community meetings. The goal of these gatherings was to understand the needs and expectations of Oregon’s healthcare consumers and providers in light of upcoming reforms.
Interestingly, the most common theme to emerge was the need to provide care to the whole person, not just their particular disease or illness. To achieve this goal, it was thought essential to include a whole host of services and providers, including those provided by Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) providers.
CAM providers (chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists and licensed massage therapists) have a proven approach focused on overall health and wellness, while also treating an individual’s specific health care needs. Through training and experience, CAM providers recognize that a patient’s medical concerns may have deeper, underlying causes that would be overlooked through simple treatment of symptoms. By focusing on prevention and overall health, it is understood that more positive outcomes can be achieved. In addition, studies have routinely shown that Complementary and Alternative Medicine costs less and often results in greater patient satisfaction.
In Oregon, and the United States as a whole, use of CAM services is growing. Hospital systems and medical professionals are among the adopters. At the same time, more and more healthcare consumers are relying on their chiropractors and naturopathic physicians for primary care services.
In leading the nation in healthcare reform, Oregon has the unique opportunity to recognize the value of CAM and to foster these innovative and successful relationships. Doing so will undoubtedly produce much needed cost savings and, more importantly, healthier citizens.
Jamie Sewell is director of sales and marketing at The CHP Group.