Research: BRACHA and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 128

Abstract

BRACHA and co-authors, Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, Minnesota 55404, USA, have documented their experience of an integrated medicine clinic.

Background

The aim of this study was to document patient usage of a hospital-based alternative medicine clinic that has been operating on a conventional healthcare campus since 1993.

Methodology

The clinic was opened in 1993 and mainly offered Acupuncture. It has been expanded since to offer Chiropractic, Massage/Bodywork, and Herbal Medicine. Administrative claims data showing visit dates, treatment received, payment source, charges, and patient complaints are available from 1997 through 2002.

Results

Of all patients who received conventional care between 1997 and 2002, 6.5% also received care at the Alternative Medicine Clinic. Nearly 80% of CAM patients received third-party reimbursement for these services. Averaged over 6 years, self-pay patients had 3.2 visits per year and incurred $173 in charges per year; patients with a mixture of third-party payment sources had 8.0 visits per year and incurred $634 in charges per year. Number of visits per patient per year remained relatively constant over the 6 years, except for patients aged 65 or older, who showed an increase in number of visits, particularly for acupuncture.

Conclusion

Results from this perspective differ markedly from those provided by published survey data, showing a lower prevalence of use and lower charges incurred. Concern that insurance coverage for CAM would increase healthcare costs dramatically are not substantiated by these data.

References

Bracha Y, Svendsen K, Culliton P. Patient visits to a hospital-based alternative medicine clinic from 1997 through 2002: experience from an integrated healthcare system. Explore-The Journal of Science & Healing 1 (1): 13-20, Jan 2005.

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