Eastern and Western Medicine Meet in Medical Offices

According to a recent survey by Jackson & Coker, a significant number of healthcare providers are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to enhance their own health and well-being, or they have introduced certain facets of alternative medicine into their patient care.

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As Eastern and Western medical approaches become more blended in the healthcare field, important decisions must be made as to what treatments are acceptable according to customary medical standards of care and also covered by medical insurers.

Alpharetta, GA (PRWEB) July 23, 2008

As more consumers become aware of medical alternatives to health and healing, physicians and other health professionals face the challenge of deciding what procedures, modalities, and therapies might be incorporated into their practice or recommended for patients to consider through alternative health practitioners. According to a recent survey by Jackson & Coker, a significant number of healthcare providers are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to enhance their own health and well-being, or they have introduced certain facets of alternative medicine into their patient care.

"Our concern in commissioning this survey was to assess the extent to which health professionals are drawn to non-conventional forms of medical treatment, either for themselves or their patients," mentions Sandra Garrett, president of Jackson & Coker. "As Eastern and Western medical approaches become more blended in the healthcare field, important decisions must be made as to what treatments are acceptable according to customary medical standards of care and also covered by medical insurers."

The survey, entitled "Healthcare Providers' Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine," was sent during June to thousands of physicians and other health professionals throughout the United States, with nearly 300 individuals responding.

The vast majority of participants (76%) held a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, versus a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (DO). Sixty percent were males. The largest age category was 50-59 (33%). Forty-five percent of respondents have been practicing medicine from 15-40 years.

The health practitioners surveyed learned about complementary and alternative medicine through various means: formal medical training (13%), seminars on holistic medicine (21%), and self-teaching or interaction with colleagues (25%). The types of alternative modalities, therapies, and treatments with which health providers were most familiar included: herbal medicine, massage therapy and reflexology, yoga and meditation, chiropractic treatment, biofeedback, and acupuncture. Other approaches with which they were less familiar included: hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, Tai Chi, and Ayurvetic medicine. The last two are common to Eastern medical practice.

The survey queried respondents as to what heath measures they personally hope to achieve in using some form of CAM. The results were as follows:

    Stress relief            19.0%
    Improve general health        15.6%
    Pain management        13.3%
    Improve mental alertness        11.4%
    Weight reduction / control         9.3%
    Reduce hypertension         8.2%
    Overcome insomnia         7.8%
    Lower cholesterol         5.9%
    Control diabetes         3.5%.

A key survey question asked, "To what extent do you use CAM approaches in your own medical practice?" The responses were as follows; 4% frequently, 44% occasionally, and 22% not at all.

Thirty percent of respondents indicated their intent to incorporate more CAM procedures into their medical practice, whereas 28% felt they might be included to do that and 31% replied 'probably not."

The reasons prompting healthcare providers to consider adopting more CAM procedures or techniques included their personal belief in CAM, growing patient requests, additional sources of revenue, and more favorable view by insurers.

On the matter of insurance reimbursement, a slight number (2%) had experienced significant problems with medical insurers in the past, 11% had encountered some difficulties, and 26% had experienced major problems in dealing with insurers.

The survey pointed out, interestingly, that only a small number of doctors (15%) believe that as complementary and alternative medicine becomes more acceptable within the healthcare field, more insurers will provide approved reimbursement. Sixty-two percent felt it was either "not too likely" or "probably unlikely" that insurance coverage will substantially increase in the foreseeable future.

Another key question was asked: "From your perspective, do physicians tend to draw a line between CAM procedures that are acceptable versus non-acceptable to Western-trained clinicians?" A few of their comments are noteworthy:

  •     "I draw the line on anything that isn't proven scientifically. Unacceptable are those treatments that only target the practice's bottom line."
  •     "Yes, only those that have stood up to the test of controlled studies are accepted."
  •     "No. It seems to me to be driven almost entirely by personal preferences / exposure."
  •     "Doctors are not properly trained in the use of alternative medicine and therefore are very reluctant to use them in their practice."
  •     "I believe that most physicians are fixed in their mind set about 'scientific medicine' and 'alternative medicine," and it is difficult to change their mind set."
  •     "Probably not. From my experience, physicians who discount CAM tend to lump all CAM modalities together regardless of their actual credibility (or lack thereof) and toss out proven methods such as acupuncture regardless of the results."
The survey commentary concluded with an interview by a board certified Internal Medicine doctor who incorporates certain aspects of complementary medicine into her medical practice.

Dr. Frenesa Hall, Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Mobile-Medicine.net, sees a trend in more healthcare providers being receptive to integrating certain CAM therapies into their patient care. Her remarks: "I see trends in this regard due to more publicity and public demand. Another reason is being able to incorporate and add cash (unrelated to insurance) revenue into the practice. Also, patients actually get better" when they are offered alternative options to improve their health.

About Jackson & Coker

With three decades of experience, Jackson & Coker is a prominent physician-staffing firm headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia. The company places physicians in over 40 medical specialties and advanced practitioners (chiefly CRNA's) in temporary (locum tenens) and permanent placement opportunities.

Jackson & Coker is a member of a "family of companies" known as Jackson Healthcare that provides information technology and human resources solutions to hospitals and healthcare organizations across the nation. For more information on Jackson & Coker, visit the company's website a JacksonCoker.com.

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