There’s no doubt about it. Healthcare has changed dramatically over the past few years. Some changes have been on the scientific or technical frontier—advances in gene therapy, new discoveries about the human microbiome and the introduction of breakthrough medical devices come to mind. Other high-profile changes have had to do with the social, economic and organizational aspects of healthcare—attempts to expand access, reduce cost and improve delivery across the entire system. Broadly speaking, these are the goals of the Affordable Care Act (also called “Obamacare”).
With all of these developments competing for headlines, it’s been easy to miss another, more subtle change in the healthcare landscape. It’s a quiet evolution that in some ways is bridging the gap between conventional care and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this bridge is that it’s being built from both sides and that everyone—and particularly patients—will benefit if it is built well. While progress has been slow and uneven, there are plenty of signs that progress is being made. Here are just a few:
- Chiropractic colleges embracing evidence-based approaches, expanding curricula, raising standards and training students to communicate and coordinate more effectively with other healthcare professionals.
Evidence-Based Chiropractic Education: Are We Equipping Graduates for Clinical Practice with Improved Patient Outcomes? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3557654/
Embracing Evidence-Based Chiropractic: An ACA News survey reveals your colleagues’ attitudes toward evidence-based care. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3613
- Growing popularity of integrated, multidisciplinary healthcare teams that include MDs as well as chiropractic physicians, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists and other types of practitioners.
Chiropractic Services at the Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/wellness/integrative-medicine/treatments-services/chiropractic
- Large public-sector healthcare organizations recognizing the value of CAM (including chiropractic care) and working to expand access to related services.
Report to Congress on the Evaluation of the Demonstration of Coverage of Chiropractic Services under Medicare. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Medicare_Demonstration_Project_Report.pdf
The Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act. http://www.acatoday.org/pdf/HR921.pdf
- Respected research institutions and medical schools around the world expanding programs designed to explore concepts at the core of CAM and apply modern scientific methods to understand them.
A Push to Back Traditional Chinese Medicine With More Data. Researchers Marry Modern Analytical Techniques to Centuries-Old Theories on What Makes People Sick. http://online.wsj.com/articles/a-push-to-back-traditional-chinese-medicine-with-more-data-1415036616
- General shift toward a healthcare paradigm that increasingly emphasizes prevention, wellness and holistic treatment.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Opportunities for Prevention and Public Health. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2960259-2/abstract
Taken together, these developments help illustrate the convergence we see happening in modern healthcare. Chiropractic is an important part of new model that values prevention, wellness and holistic treatment over “sick care”. Chiropractic physicians have long shared these priorities with their patients.
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