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Porblems Faced In Integrating Acupuncture Into Today's Health Care System.

Author : Gale Benz

The incorporation of acupuncture into the modern health care system can be made possible by a better understanding in practitioners of the language and practices of both the traditional and conventional health care communities. Acupuncture aims at a holistic, energy-based model to the patient rather than a disease-based diagnostic and treatment model.

An imperative step for the integration of acupuncture into the contemporary health care system is the training and credentialing of acupuncturists by the appropriate local organizations. This is necessary to allow the general public and other health practitioners to identify qualified acupuncturists. The acupuncture educational communities have made impressive progress in this area and is promoted to follow this course. Educational standards have been established for teaching of physician and non-physician acupuncture practitioners. Many acupuncture educational programs are accredited by an organization that is acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education. A federal credentialing agency is there for non-physician acupuncturists and offers examinations for entry-level competency in the field. A nationally recognized examination for physician acupuncturists has been established.

Most of States provide licensure or registration for acupuncture practitioners. Because some acupuncture practitioners have inadequate English proficiency, credentialing and licensing exams should be offered in languages other than English where necessary. There is difference in the titles that are conferred through these processes, and the prerequisites to obtain licensure differ substantially. The scope of practice allowed under these State requirements varies as well. Although States have the individual prerogative to set standards for profession licensures, consistency in these fields will offer greater confidence in the qualifications of acupuncture practitioners. For example, not all States recognize the same credentialing examination, therefore making reciprocity complicated.

The occurrence of adverse events in the practice of acupuncture has been documented to be extremely low. However, these events have happened on rare occasions, some of which are life-threatening (e.g., pneumothorax). As a result, appropriate safeguards for the protection of consumers have to be in position. Patients should be fully informed of their treatment options, expected prognosis, relative risk, and safety practices to minimize these risks before their receipt of acupuncture. This information have to be provided in a way that is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the patients. Use of acupuncture needles should always be consistent with FDA regulations, including use of sterile, single-use needles. It is known that these are already being practiced by many acupuncturists; however, these practices should be uniform.

It has been confirmed that more than one million Americans currently accept acupuncture treatment each year. Sustained access to qualified acupuncture practitioners for appropriate conditions need to be ensured. Because numerous people seek health care treatment from both acupuncturists and physicians, communication between these providers need to be strengthened and improved. If a patient is under the care of an acupuncturist and a physician, both practitioners should be informed. Both patients and providers have a responsibility to facilitate this communication.

There is evidence that some consumers have limited access to acupuncture services because of lack of ability to pay. Insurance companies can remove financial barriers to access conditional on their willingness to provide coverage for appropriate acupuncture services. An increasing number of insurance companies are either considering this possibility or now provide coverage for acupuncture services. In States where there health insurance plans, and for people served by Medicare or Medicaid, expansion of coverage to include appropriate acupuncture services would also help reduce financial barriers to access.

Author's Resource Box

The website of Britannia Acupuncture Clinic will provide you with more information about acupuncture practice.

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Tags:   health care, insurance, acupuncture, alternative medicine

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Submitted : 2011-07-25    Word Count : 601    Times Viewed: 364