The business of integrative medicine in a large hospital system

Thomas Lanni, Gail Elliott Patricolo


The number of patients seeking complementary and alternative medicines combined with conventional treatments has grown considerably over the past decade. To meet the growing demand, a dedicated oncology integrative medicine program was initiated in the Beaumont Health System to address the needs of this patient population. Due to its resounding success and patient satisfaction, as evidenced by patient utilization and testimonials and physician referrals, the
program was expanded across the healthcare system to every medical specialty. This study outlines how the program was implemented and its business model.

A number of methods were used to evaluate the feasibility of starting the program and determine the services required. Financial analyses were developed to understand the costs associated with starting the program without financial assistance.

In 2006, an Integrative Medicine program was launched in the Beaumont Cancer Institute (Royal Oak, MI). The initial offering for patients was clinical massage; however, the program rapidly expanded. Currently, services include clinical massage, a clinical massage training program, Reiki, guided imagery, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. Patients and physicians expressed satisfaction with the increasing number of complementary services offered at the institution, and the services are heavily utilized. In 2012, the program had more than 18,000 patient visits, of which, 10,191 were for clinical massage, 6,515 for acupuncture, and 1,030 for naturopathic medicine.

In this study of developing and implementing an Integrative Medicine program in a large healthcare system, it is shown that a successful program could be initiated with the appropriate planning and support from administration. The program is shown to be financially viable, as the Integrative Medicine (IM) department has become self-sufficient and no longer requires financial support from other hospital departments, and the numerous testimonials indicate that the program has been rewarding for practitioners, staff, and patients.


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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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