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August 2018 Newsletter

Table of Contents - August 2018

Staying Ahead of the Curve

As a new board member of the AAMA, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Joe Audette. I’ve been a physician acupuncturist throughout my nearly 25-year medical career as a pain specialist in the Harvard system, and I have had a front-row seat watching the pendulum move back and forth in the politics behind using opioids for the treatment of pain. As course director of a major physician-training program in medical acupuncture — the Integrated Structural Acupuncture Course for Physicians — I am more hopeful than ever that, as part of a solution to the opioid crisis, medical acupuncture is poised to become part of the mainstream of conventional medicine. 

The opioid crisis has led many state legislative bodies to seek solutions by statute. The main focus to date has been to target prescribers, making it ever more difficult for a physician to write an opioid prescription, both in the acute and chronic pain setting. In Massachusetts, these new statutes require that physicians:

  1. check a State-run prescription monitoring website each time they write an opioid;
  2. provide only a 7-day supply of pain medications in the acute setting;
  3. inform the patient that partial refills are allowed; and 
  4. document and provide the patient with an informed consent about risks and an opioid treatment agreement if the prescription is for chronic pain.  

The third-party insurers are also weighing in, setting monthly quantity limits and requiring prior authorizations on opioids. 

All of this has had a chilling effect on physicians’ interest in dealing with pain patients, and the overall mood is to avoid writing opioids as much as possible. This, of course, has had very little effect on the actual opioid crisis, which has now transformed into a heroin and illegal fentanyl crisis. There is real concern amongst chronic pain advocates that the regulations on opioid prescribing may ultimately prove to have the opposite effect intended — pushing desperate pain patients towards street drugs when they cannot get legal prescriptions from their doctors. 

The voices of various chronic pain lobbyist groups have started to be heard by some legislative bodies. A recent response by the Massachusetts legislature may be predicative of what we can expect across the country. As Cindy Steinberg, policy chair for Massachusetts Pain Initiative, states: “Physicians don’t know what to do for people’s pain.”1 To respond to this dilemma, in a late night session before the summer recess of the state body, a number of bills were passed to try to provide greater access to non-opioid treatment options for pain patients in our state. 

The bill that passed has two main provisions. First, it proposes that the state establish a team of pain-management specialists that are available as consultants to frontline clinicians to give advice about alternative pain therapies and treatment options. Second, there is a requirement that health insurers cover the full array of non-opioid pain treatments, which could include acupuncture, chiropractic, and potentially even massage and yoga. The bill still has a number of important hoops to jump through, including the Governor’s signature and review by the state Health Policy Commission, before recommendations are made to the Department of Insurance about which therapies should be covered. However, my sense is that this bill will be the catalyst that forces Massachusetts insurance plans to cover acupuncture more broadly. 

Clearly there are many physician acupuncturists who would welcome this change, giving more access to a broader socioeconomic population. However, in reflecting on the ramifications of full insurance coverage for medical acupuncture, the dictum “be careful of what you wish for…” comes to mind.  

I have had a close association over the last 15 years with the German Medical Acupuncture Association, DÄGfa. In Germany, acupuncture is predominantly performed by physicians rather than the equivalent of licensed acupuncturists and after a series of studies on pain, sponsored by the Health Insurance companies in Germany, acupuncture has become a covered service by the German National Health Insurance for two indications: back pain and knee arthritis. The reimbursement for acupuncture is 20 Euro, which with the current exchange rate is equivalent to about $23 per treatment. This coverage has led physicians in Germany in two directions; one is to create acupuncture mills, where often a Chinese physician newly immigrated to Germany will be hired by an orthopedist to treat 50-70 patients a day. Alternatively, many members of DÄGfa have chosen to not accept the National Health Insurance coverage and opt out, continuing to require self pay.  

To avoid this, as an organization, we need to stay ahead of this wave and work to ensure that as acupuncture is brought into conventional medicine, reimbursement is in line with the actual service provided. Our legislative committee will need our collective support and an ongoing commitment to ensure that we can effectively lobby for ourselves as these local and national policies emerge.  

1.  Freyer, FJ, (2018, August 2). Opioid bill highlights chronic pain treatment. The Boston Globe, pp. B1, B9. 

Joseph Audette, MA, MD
AAMA Board Member 

Welcome New AAMA Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who became part of the AAMA in July 2018:

  • Martin Torrents, DO of Montgomery, NY
  • McKay B. Crowley, MD of Winston Salem, NC 
  • Zoe Amos Adler, MD of Salt Lake City, UT 
  • Joseph Edward Lotterhos, MD of Henderson, NV  

If you have peers or colleagues who aren’t currently members of the AAMA, please encourage them to learn more about the benefits of membership by visiting the website or contacting Sue Sorensen, MD, FAAMA, the membership committee chair. 

How Compassion Benefits the Healing Process

The OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine Journal, an international peer-reviewed open access journal, covers evidence-based scientific studies on integrative, alternative and complementary approaches to improving health and wellness. OBM has recently invited Steven K. H. Aung, CM, AOE, MD, PhD, FAAFP, to be guest editor for an upcoming special issue, “How Compassion Benefits the Healing Process.” This issue will focus on the importance of patient-doctor relationships and how the healing process benefits when compassion is involved. Aung has invited his fellow AAMA members to make a submission based on this topic. Many forms of submissions are being accepted, such as: original research, review, communication, opinion, case report, study protocol, commentary, etc. The submission deadline is March 31, 2019 and all submissions must be done online through the OBM Journal website.For more information, visit the OBM Journal website

AAMA Website Update – Opportunity for Members to Grow Patient Base

More than 87% of traffic on the AAMA website represents new visitors. And the majority of visitors (in this case, almost half) find the AAMA site through an “organic search,” which means they aren’t typing in AAMA — they find us because they are searching for content related to medical acupuncture. Once on the site, the “Find an Acupuncturist” search function of the AAMA website continues to be the most popular page for new and returning visitors. Please take a moment now to make sure you are part of the member directory and that your information is up to date. If you find an error or omission, you may update your listing on that page.   

Boost Your Branding with AAMA and DABMA Certification

If you are a Full Member or Fellow of the AAMA with DABMA certification, you are eligible to print the Medical Acupuncture certification mark on your stationary, business cards or other listings to promote your special accomplishments in medical acupuncture. The certification mark is available only to Full Members and Fellows of the AAMA who are currently Board Certified by the ABMA. The mark has been registered with the US Patent Office as a Certification Mark that is available for the exclusive use of those who meet the specified credentials. See Certification Mark Guidelines (http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/Portals/2/PDFs/Certification_Mark_Guidelines.pdf) for standards on how the mark should be used in printed materials including acceptable type face, size, color, etc. For an electronic copy of a reproducible jpeg copy of the logo to provide your printer, Full Members and Fellows who are currently Board Certified through the ABMA may send a request to info@medicalacupuncture.org. Upon verification of your status, a jpg file will be sent to you. 

Physicians Complete 10-Year ABMA Recertification Process

Congratulations to the following physicians who have completed the process (http://www.dabma.org/recertification.asp) set by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) to be re-certified as a Diplomate for another 10 years:  

  • Mitch Prywes, MD, FAAMA - Danbury, CT
  • Brenda S. Donaldson, MD, FAAMA - Farmington Hills, MI
  • Arkady Dubovoy, MD, FAAMA - Montpelier, VA 

Membership Renewal Reminder!

AAMA Membership Renewal season is here. Need a reminder about the many perks of being a member? Read through the list of membership benefits. Please take a moment to submit your renewal information and your annual dues. To renew, log in to your member account on the website and either (1) visit the Store to find renewal products or (2) proceed directly to the membership renewal page.         

NCCIH Funding Priorities: Pain, Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture

NCCIH current funding priorities include acupuncture for pain management and electroacupuncture protocol(s) for safety and pain conditions. Does your research align? According to the funding information, “a recent, large meta-analysis of patient-level acupuncture data for the treatment of four chronic pain conditions (back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain) found statistically significant, but small, differences between verum acupuncture (e.g., acupuncture administered according to classical Asian teachings) and “sham” acupuncture procedures (e.g., needling at non-classical acupoints, or non-penetrating needling at classical acupoints) …larger, statistically significant differences were found when acupuncture is compared to no acupuncture. These findings are generally consistent with trends across the larger body of clinical trial research examining painful conditions, which suggest benefit of acupuncture treatment when compared to standard of care with no acupuncture …” Read more about the opportunities.

Inaugural International Medical Qigong-Taichi Forum at Harvard University 

This two-day meeting is hosted by the American TCM Association (ATCMA), an organization of Chinese physicians practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine here in the U.S. The AAMA and ATCMA have recently agreed to work together on our common goal of advancing physician acupuncture. The ATCMA will be hosting a medical Qigong and Taichi forum at Massachusetts General Hospital next month: September 22-23, 2018. Learn more.

ACUS Foundation Graduation

In a recent digital newsletter celebrating a new cohort of program graduates, the ACUS Foundation focused its content on inspiring stories of gratitude and impact. Read more about how military physicians and health care providers are incorporating acupuncture into their patient care.  

ICMART August 2018 News

A newly released publication features scientific happenings, member news from around the world and an update about work with WHO in Geneva. Read more from the International Congress on Medical Acupuncture and Related Therapies. 

Save the Date: 2019 AAMA Annual Symposium

The AAMA Symposium will take place in Phoenix, AZ, April 11-14, 2019. The 2019 conference, Art of Healing:  Acupuncture Pearls in Clinical Practice, will offer a combination of practical skills, evidence-based theory and inspiration.  Please mark your calendars now and look for announcements, about how to submit a poster for our poster session or a free paper for presentation. We encourage you to submit your research and writings.  

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It Last Month

Share Your Skills and Expertise with the AAMA 
Do you have a special area of interest in acupuncture that you could share with your colleagues?The AAMA invites you to submit a proposal to present a webinar. If your proposal is accepted, you will work directly with the AAMA Education Committee to present your work in live video format to members and non-members. Webinars may be eligible for Continuing Medical Education credit. Contact aamastaff@gmail.com for additional information. 

Help Build the AAMA and Earn $$
We're excited to announce a new member-recruiting program designed to reward current members for referring their peers to the AAMA for membership. If you nominate someone who joins as a full member, you'll earn a $50 credit to use on future AAMA events, including the annual symposium, workshops, or apply to your own future membership dues. You can read more on the AAMA website

Acupuncture Books at Low Prices, Going Fast! 
The AAMA is having a summer book sale! Deep discounts on classic titles related to medical acupuncture. Don't miss this chance to build your knowledge base — and your library! Now is the time to grab them at LOW prices. Limited quantities are available, so don't delay. Order books now while supplies last.

REMINDER: 2018 Annual Symposium Recordings Available
The 30th Annual Symposium in Kansas City received rave reviews. If you weren’t able to attend this year – or if there was a specific session you missed – Symposium recordings are still available for purchase either as individual sessions or for the Symposium as a whole. For more information, click here.    

Professional Development Opportunities

World Congress On Medical Acupuncture International Scientific Acupuncture And Meridian Symposium
September 6 - 9, 2018 in Munich, Germany

2nd International Symposium on Research in Acupuncture
October 20-21, 2018, in Bologna, Italy
Organized by: The Association of Medical Acupuncturists of Bologna (A.M.A.B.) and the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR)

AAMA 31st Annual Symposium
April 11-14, 2019
Phoenix, AZ

AAMA Website: Education Listings 
The AAMA maintains an ongoing calendar of educational events and professional development opportunities related to medical acupuncture. The calendar is accessible on the AAMA website. Members are encouraged to share events and calendar items from their regions and about educational topics that may be of wider interest among peers and fellow AAMA members. 

New Scientific Research

Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture or Waitlist Control on Joint Pain Related to Aromatase Inhibitors Among Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Acupuncture was associated with statistically significant reductions in aromatase inhibitor–related joint pain at 6 weeks, although the magnitude of the improvement was of uncertain clinical importance. 

... And a follow-up JAMA article about that study: Can Acupuncture Keep Women on Their Breast Cancer Drugs? 

Effects of Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation on the Autonomic Balance of Cardiac Transplant Recipients
The results suggest that TEAS modulates the autonomic balance of cardiac transplant patients submitted to TEAS and has been shown to be a safe practice for these patients.

Use and perceived effectiveness of complementary therapies in Parkinson's disease
Complementary therapies are frequently used by people with Parkinson's disease coming to our center, and are viewed to be helpful for both motor and non-motor symptoms. … Massage, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and acupuncture were the mostly commonly used complementary therapies.

Earn $50 for New Member!

Know someone who could - and should - become an AAMA member? Earn $50 for yourself by getting them to join the Academy!

Send their contact info to the Academy - if they submit a membership application and are found to be eligible for Full membership, pay the application fee and one year's dues, the Academy will provide you a $50 credit to use on Academy items such as future Dues, Symposium or Workshop registration.

Find all the Details about this offer! (Member login required)

Membership Information

Membership Renewal Time!

The membership year ends June 30, 2018. Renewal dues invoices have been mailed to all members earlier this month. If you have not yet paid your membership dues for 2018-19, you can pay online through the website. Log into your member account and go to the Store to find renewal products or to this page.

Symposium Recordings

Did you miss the 2019 Symposium in Phoenix, AZ? Did you forget to purchase recordings before leaving?  You can STILL purchase recordings - Stream or download videos.

Order today!

Resourceful Recordings

Journal CME

Medical Acupuncture, the Official Journal of the AAMA, contains selected articles that are approved for 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™Mary Ann Liebert, Inc publishers anticipates that 6 articles per year will carry CME credit. 

CME credit is available for free to AAMA members and available to other subscribers and readers for a small fee. 

Click here to access current and past issues of Medical Acupuncture.

Scientific Research

Read more evidence-based research on acupuncture and its applications in medical practice.

Copyright 2020 by American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
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