Upcoming Conference on Integrative Medicine & Health Information Technology

On October 29-31, 2013, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine will host the inaugural "International Congress for Clinicians in Complementary and Integrative Medicine" in Chicago, Illinois. Areas of focus include a health futurist perspective on the evolving role of integrative medicine in the evolving healthcare environment; and the use of computers and technology in Integrative Medicine.

Integrative Medicine, or Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM), are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally accepted within the realm of modern mainstream medicine. These includes acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, osteopathic medicine, homeotherapy, use of natural herbal remedies, and other practices to augment conventional medical treatments.

The Market &  Integrative Medicine

Consumers are increasingly turning to CAM therapies in order to enhance their health and well-being.  Back in 2005, the Board on Health Promotion & Disease Prevention issued a report on Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the U.S.  It stated that the total visits to CAM providers exceed total visits to all primary-care physicians.

In 2009, the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reported that out-of-pocket costs for CAM by adults in the U.S. exceeded $33 billion – and the numbers have continued to increase since then. That did not include those therapies or treatments covered by insurance.

Today, many hospitals, managed care plans, and conventional practitioners now incorporate a number of CAM therapies into their practices. In addition, medical schools, nursing schools, and schools of pharmacy are now teaching their students about Integrative Medicine and CAM therapies.

According to a survey  conducted by NCCAM and CDC  in 2007, the following are the 10 most commonly used CAM therapies in the U.S.

• Herbalism/Natural Products (17.7%)
• Deep Breathing (12.7%)
• Meditation (9.4%)
• Chiropractic & Osteopathic (8.6%)
• Massage (8.3%)
• Yoga (6.1%)
• Diet-based therapy (3.6%)
• Progressive relaxation (2.9%)
• Guided Imagery (2.2%)
• Homeopathic Treatment (1.8%)    

See NCCAM report – http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm

Computers & Integrative Medicine

To gain increased acceptance, there is a need to gather and integrate healthcare information associated with the use of CAM therapies into electronic health record (EHR) systems. This will allow for the generation of more accurate measurement of treatment outcomes. Best practices can them emerge showing which CAM procedures are most effective when coupled with conventional medical treatments for specific disorders.

At present, there are a number of companies marketing proprietary CAM software modules. There are also a number of 'open source' CAM solutions now available. However, none of the companies appear to have taken any major steps forward to integrate these products and data with PHR or EHR systems as yet.

Over this next decade, look for automated CAM software modules to emerge that will be integrated into next generation of EHR and PHR systems. However, health IT standards working groups need to continue to formulate the standards and functional requirements for complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) modules  to be included in EHR and PHR systems of the future.

Examples of CAM Software

The following are some key sources of  'open source' and/or proprietary commercial CAM software:

Zentrum Publishing CAM Software
BFE Integrative Medicine Software Suite
Ginkgo Software
MyDataBank (MDB)
MedStar Total Works
SOAPe Chiropractic Software
BioPulse CAM Software & Device

Other Selected References & Web Sites

Alternative Medicine Foundation -  
Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) 
National Association of Nutrition Professionals
National Center for Homeotherapy
Natural Standard
Rosenthal Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Evidence Based CAM Journal -
Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine



Thanks for this Peter. This

Thanks for this Peter. This is an important development for integrative medicine.

It is important to note though that integrative medicine (IM) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are not synonymous. CAM therapies and approaches to care (and to maintaining wellbeing) constitute a class of modalities notable really by not being included in reimbursed care systems. It is also true that for some the evidence from research trials may not be firmly established; but the usual methodologies for medical research are also often inappropriate for measuring CAM outcomes.

Integrative medicine is an approach to care that emphasizes the patient-provider relationship as central to the healing process, as it does in clinically regarding the "whole person" whatever the presenting condition might be. So integrative docs want to use a full measure of therapeutic options, including those that patients have been choosing outside of standard medicine (for more than a generation), if there exists an empirical outcome history that provides great confidence. Acupuncture is used for many pain conditions now because of its long and effective use.

Other therapies like yoga continue to establish good therapeutic outcomes in trials and in the clinic and will need to find places in the EHR and coding systems. How this is accomplished by developers is very important to responding to patient preferences that are extending their options.