BOSTON-The Minneapolis-based Medtronic Foundation has awarded Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital, a $900,000 grant to support the development of core infrastructure for a clinical facility that integrates conventional and complementary care services. David Eisenberg, M.D., director of the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education at BIDMC and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will direct the project.
The Integrative Care Center's key infrastructure components include the development of referral mechanisms, credentialing and quality assurance policies, communication strategies, formulary standards, educational materials, and secured electronic data collection methods.
A growing body of research indicates that the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States continues to increase. Studies by Eisenberg and his colleagues have documented that 42 percent of adults in the United States (83 million) routinely use complementary medical therapies to treat their most common medical conditions. In 1997, Americans made an estimated 629 million offices visits to complementary and alternative medicine providers and spent an estimated $27 billion out-of-pocket on complementary care. Research conducted at the BIDMC Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education also documented that most Americans use complementary and alternative medicine therapies as adjuncts to-and not as replacement for-conventional medical care.
Despite this widespread use of complementary and alternative medical therapies, Eisenberg says that no current clinical care model successfully integrates conventional and complementary/integrative medical services for the purposes of optimizing clinical care, performing research, and developing evidence-based educational training programs.
"The Medtronic Foundation's support will help us take a pivotal step towards the planning and establishment of an integrative care center dedicated to the care of patients, to the conduct of clinical and basic science research, and the education of the next generation of health care providers," says Eisenberg. "Our goal is to develop a model that serves as a resource for other Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals. The challenge is enormous and we must be guided by research, the constructive criticism of skeptical colleagues and, most importantly, our patients, many of whom routinely seek our advice about the use or avoidance of these therapies."
As envisioned, the proposed BIDMC Integrative Care Center will provide services that combine conventional therapies with complementary and alternative medical therapies; will be guided by the best existing scientific evidence regarding safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness; will require patients to assume an active role in their medical management; can be applied to a variety of specific medical conditions; and be replicable at other medical care facilities.
The Medtronic Foundation's three-year award is part of its Health Center Leadership Grant Program, which was created to advance the efforts of nationally recognized institutions to improve the care and full-life participation of patients with chronic cardiac and neurologic conditions. The Medtronic Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Medtronic, Inc., the world's leading medical technology company, specializing in implantable and interventional therapies that restore health, extend life and alleviate pain.
"Medtronic recognizes that healing and restoring patients to full health requires treatment of the whole patient, as well as state-of-the-art medical technology," says William W. George, chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic. "Through partnership with these leading institutions, we look forward to learning about new ways to care for the patients we both serve and demonstrating improved patient outcomes through a more comprehensive approach to patient care."
Since 1995, Eisenberg and his colleagues at the BIDMC Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education have published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles on complementary and alternative medicine. These include two seminal national surveys documenting the prevalence, cost and patterns of use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies in the United States and a frequently cited paper providing strategies for communication between patients and health care providers regarding the use or avoidance of complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Eisenberg co-directs two Harvard Medical School (HMS) continuing medical education courses as well as an annual HMS department of medicine course devoted to complementary and alternative medical therapies. He also co-directs, with Russell Phillips, M.D., associate professor of medicine at BIDMC and HMS, a National Institutes of Health-funded fellowship training program in complementary and alternative medicine.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, research and teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of CareGroup Healthcare System. BIDMC is the third largest recipient of National Institutes of Health research funding.