Complementary and Alternative Health Care Gaining

Alternative Care Gains Acceptance, reported Reuters via Health Decisions.

The article states:

"When it opened in 2004, the Cleveland Clinic's alternative medicine clinic had just a few patients.

But two years later, the Center for Integrative Medicine in this Cleveland suburb is thriving, with dozens of patients visiting every week for acupuncture, yoga therapy and other alternatives to conventional healing.

The clinic and patients attribute the growth to word of mouth, success in treating chronic conditions such as pain and insurance companies' increasing willingness to pay. Though, in general, most patients pay for alternative treatment, including the $250 consultation with Dr. Tanya Edwards, the center's medical director.

Other hospitals offer alternative therapies, including Cleveland's University Hospitals, which has Reiki and meditation at its Ireland Cancer Center."

Over 25 U.S. medical schools have integrative medicine or complementary and alternative medicine clinical centers, according to Integrative Medicine: A Legal and Operational Guide (Springer, 2006), the newest primer which outlines the pitfalls, legal road-blocks, and legal and institutional issues in bringing complementary and integrative medicine into daily health care routines. The Integrative Medicine center at the Cleveland Clinic is one of these.

Reuters notes:

"'While we don't have a specific center for alternative medicine, we have specialists who are spread around the system,' said hospital spokeswoman Alicia Reale.

University Hospitals was poised to open a clinic in Beachwood in the late 1990s but scrapped the plan. Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights had an alternative-care clinic in the late 1990s, but the program closed in 1999, largely because insurance companies didn't pay for most alternative therapies, and patients seemed unwilling or unable to foot the bill.

But these days, there seems to be more acceptance, especially among patients who can't get relief from traditional Western care.

Edwards provides patients with a one-hour consultation that addresses their physical illness, as well as their emotional and spiritual health and well-being. She emphasizes the importance of nutrition.

Edwards hopes the highly regarded work of the center pushes insurers to pay for more alternative treatment.

Insurance coverage is driven by two things: 'Underlying medical evidence is the core driver; the second is the average consumer or employer's ability to pay,' said Mohit Ghose, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association of insurers.

Employers over the years have been more willing to pay for programs that encourage healthier living, he said.

The movement toward including integrative care in academic medical centers seems to be increasing, with such acceptance being reported in the national media.