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Lab Company Teaches MDs/DCs/NDs How to Offer Integrative Services for Employers

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series
Summary: Three years ago, Kauley Jones, vice president for sales and marketing for Immunolabs, a vendor of diagnostic testing services to integrative practitioners, began educating herself to the economic “plight of employers” regarding health-related costs and the potential link to integrative practice. She was stimulated to do so by her integrative practitioner clients. Jones learned that the most significant cost of poor employee health is not medical costs but something employers call “presenteeism” – basically, health-related productivity issues. Jones began creating a multi-year Immunolabs initiative to support integrative physicians who wish to learn the language and culture that will allow them to serve “this (other) stakeholder which has a vested interest in health.”
Send your comments to johnweeks@theintegratorblog.com
for inclusion in a future Your Comments Forum.


employers, integrative medicine, alternative medicine, cost savings, health and productivity
Sponsoring an effort to connect integrative practitioners with employers
When I reconnected with the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) last fall to help
stimulate dialogue between employers and integrative practitioners, I learned of an extraordinary development. Immuno Laboratories(Immunolabs), a vendor of laboratory services to integrative physicians, had invited IHPM’s co-founder and CEO, Sean Sullivan, to keynote a November 2007 Immunolabs-sponsored conference. The entire focus of the conference was on awakening Immunolabs’ practitioner clients - mainly integrative medical doctors, naturopathic physicians and chiropractors - to the language and skills required to serve the interest of employers in health and productivity management.

I recently contacted Kauley Jones, the Immunolabs vice president who developed this initiative. I wanted to know about the firm's journey into this relatively uncharted zone. We spoke about her discovery of the “employer’s plight” regarding health-related costs, her instinct that integrative practitioners could fill a significant need, and the strategic moves Immunolabs has since taken, through conferences and other services, to help bridge this language and culture gap. The goal, like the Integrator employer initiative, is to spark connectivity between integrative interests is health creation and this other “stakeholder which has a vested interest in health.”
______________________________

Integrator
: Immunolabs is a lab company. Why focus on this? Big Pharma vendors are working with employers in many ways but I’ve never heard of a vendor associated with integrative practice doing so.


Jones: We had been hearing from our doctors for some time that many of them wanted to get in with corporations. So I started reading articles about corporations and the issues they were dealing with. It was an education to me to see their plight with the health of their employees. Somewhere in this research I came across the idea of “presenteeism” [a productivity indicator] that they were talking about. This was interesting. I thought our practitioners would be able to make contributions there.

employers, integrative medicine, alternative medicine, cost savings, health and productivity
Kauley Jones, Immunolabs VP: Leading the initiative
Integrator
:
It was the concept of presenteeism and metrics for evaluating interventions which targeted productivity that got me thinking more deeply about employers too. Integrative practitioners often talk about their ability to give employees more energy, relieve depression, back off on drugs the patients don’t like, be able to do more things. These are potentially all productivity-related.

Jones: Presenteeism is huge – this idea that a person can be present at the workplace but not functioning at peak productivity and that there were interventions that could be measured in ways that show up as dollars saved.

Integrator: So this is how you got to Sean and IHPM – they’ve been leaders in this work for a decade.

Jones: Yes, through presenteeism I discovered IHPM. I’ve been focusing on IHPM for a couple of years, going to their conferences, because here in these employers was a stakeholder with a invested interest in health, in change. They were talking about the importance of healthy employees. I started going to their conferences. One time Sean [Sullivan, IHPM’s co-founder and CEO] talked from the podium about what they didn’t yet have in the room. They had the corporations, and managed care firms. Sean said that what is missing are the physicians. I thought of a couple of physicians we have across the country, and what they are doing and thought, 'Boy, this could be a great resource for their employers.' I also noted that the employers are somewhat lacking in their programs. They’re still focused on things like smoking cessation and getting employees to take their meds. I thought we could help take them the next step.

Integrator: But there is not any direct benefit to Immunolabs in this work.

Jones: We work more closely with our physicians than many do. Of course, we know in the grand scheme of things that if we give it will come back to us. This was a way to serve our clients.

Integrator: You mentioned that some of your doctors showed an interest in getting in with corporations. What kinds of things have you heard?

employers, integrative medicine, alternative medicine, cost savings, health and productivity
Integrator sponsor stimulates employers to explore the potential of integrative practice
Jones
:
We started polling our physicians and asking them if any were doing anything with corporations. I was surprised to find that we had some who were getting out there. Mark Hyman (MD) is one of our testers [of our laboratory products]. He’s talking with a number of corporations with his Ultra Wellness program. We also have a couple of doctors in Phoenix who are making some inroads. Another regularly is a doctor on corporate wellness cruises.

Integrator: You had a conference in November of 2007 on this topic. How did the conference go?

Jones: We decided in June [2007] to do a conference. It went really well, we think. We had 120 attend.

Integrator: So what was the content like?

Jones: The goal with the first conference was to get physicians to the table to educate them to the terminology so they could talk to employers. I knew when I went to the IHPM that employers were talking a foreign language. Our doctors can go to a company and talk one way and it will mean nothing. But if you phrase it differently, you can enter. We had Sean [Sullivan, IHPM CEO] there to keynote. So we talked about presenteeism and outcomes measuring. He showed the physicians that they need to be looking at what is impairing people from being their most productive. To some physicians this is a foreign language. If we can frame what our physicians do in corporate terminology, we have a pretty good opportunity on a grassroots level to make some change.


Integrator: It would be nice to develop a little glossary to help with this cross-over process.

Jones
:
Yes, that would be very useful. We could work on that.

Integrator: Maybe we could work on it together – I’d love to publish it here. You are planning a follow-up conference then?

Jones: This fall [2008] we will have our second. We don’t have the dates yet. This will enhance the dialogue. We already had a symptom check list that some of our physicians were using. We added some productivity-related questions. We have 10 sites now that are gathering data. They’ll do follow-ups at 30 days and 60 days. We know that this is short term, but it’s a start. We expect to have data on a few hundred patients. We’ll be sharing some of these outcomes.

Integrator: Well, your work is visionary. I think it is just what we need. Thanks for your vision. I’ll plan to keep reporting how this initiative plays out!

Note & Disclosure: For a You-Tube interview with IHPM's Sullivan from the Immunolabs conference, click here. IHPM is an Integrator sponsor.



Send your comments to johnweeks@theintegratorblog.com
for inclusion in a future Your Comments Forum.
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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
 
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