September 18-20, 2021 | New York Hilton, NY

Panel: Group-Delivered Services: Addressing Challenges of Access and Equity Facing Integrative Health and Medicine

John Weeks
Paula Gardiner, MD
Jeffrey Geller, MD

The historic position of holistic, complementary, and integrative practices and practitioners outside of the dominant school of medical payment and delivery created obstacles to access for many who cannot afford cash payments. While steps have been taken toward more coverage and inclusion by some insurer, government agencies and delivery organizations, many in the field concerned with equity and health justice have begun exploring group-delivered integrative services to expand the reach of these services into underserved populations. Group methods are aligned with the whole person and lifestyle change orientation of integrative health values of engagement, motivation, self-care, communication and connectivity. Notably, groups are also the delivery method of some of the earliest and most widely adopted, evidence-informed, multi-modal, integrative programs: Dean Ornish, MD’s programs for reversing atherosclerosis; Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; and Herbert Benson, MD’s relaxation response work.

Panelist Jeffrey Geller, MD, is recognized for his pioneering work in bringing group integrative services into the Federally Qualified Health Center environment. Panelist Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, received a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant for researching group integrative services in the environment of a safety net hospital. The panelists and moderator are each in leadership roles for Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US), a not-for-profit organization that has identified expansion of group services as a top policy initiative. All three members of the presenter team performed key roles in the first ever issue of a peer-reviewed and indexed journal to create a special issue on innovation in group delivered services, published in July 2019: Gardiner as a guest editor and a co-author on a systematic review, Geller as author of a lead commentary, and Weeks as an editorial contributor and overall project manager. Participants in the session will learn about the state of the science supporting group-delivered services in integrative health and medicine together with practical strategies used in multiple environments to bring integrative services to populations that cannot typically afford them.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Describe the state of the research surrounding integrative medicine group visits.
  2. Explain methods for shaping programs to meet the needs of underserved populations.
  3. Discuss strategies for payment and coverage.
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