Dr. Jeffery Dusek is the Director of Research, Connor Integrative Health Network, University Hospitals, Cleveland OH and an Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. He also serves as the Principal Investigator of Patients Receiving Integrative Medicine Interventions Effectiveness Registry (PRIMIER), BraveNet Practice Based Research Network (PBRN), which is a 5,000 patient longitudinal study across 17 civilian and 2 VA integrative medicine clinics. Dusek also serves as the Vice Chair for the Research Working Group of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (Consortium) as well as the Co-Editor of the Integrative Medicine Section for the journal, Pain Medicine.

What are your overall reflections on the current environment of integrative health and medicine and pain?

I feel that 2020 is already starting out to be an exciting year for integrative health and medicine and pain. On January 21, 2020, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo stating that CMS will now cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain under section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act. Up to 12 visits in 90 days are covered for Medicare beneficiaries for chronic low back pain. While there are some challenges as to the providers that CMS will currently cover for provision of acupuncture, this is a pivotal moment for the field. There is speculation that chronic low back pain may be the first of several conditions to be covered by CMS.  And when CMS covers an intervention for a condition, the thought is some private insurers will follow suit. Although to be fair, many private insurers already covered acupuncture for chronic pain conditions for years before the CMS memo was released.

That is great news…what else will be happening in 2020?

Well, 2020 is going to be a great year for research as the Consortium’s The International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH) will take place in Cleveland, Ohio from April 28 – May 1, 2020. It is expected that roughly 1,000 attendees from 26 countries will be represented. There are amazing plenary sessions with speakers such as Helene Langevin MD, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) as well as numerous symposia, oral presentations and poster presentations. For full disclosure, I should state that I also serve as the co-chair of the ICIMH 2020 Scientific Review Committee. But the ICIMH 2020 will be worth attending if you are a researcher, patient, policy maker or person interested in integrative health and medicine. Pain is always a primary issue covered at the ICIMH and this year is no exception.

And, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released funding opportunities through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative or NIH HEAL Initiative as it did in 2019. Through the HEAL initiative, NIH supports research to enhance pain management and improve treatment for opioid misuse and addiction.

While the pace of research may be too slow for some, this research will be instrumental in adding to the evidence base that precedes policy decisions like the CMS memo mentioned above. The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is a key NIH center releasing funding opportunities for integrative health and medicine for pain relief and appropriate opioid use. This is an amazing response to the devastation seen from the misuse and overdose opioid epidemic.

What is the most exciting thing that you are working on?

My passion is the use of practice based research across the field of integrative health and medicine with a particular focus on pain—both acute and chronic pain. Practice based research is simply research that occurs in the office, clinic or hospital where patients generally receive clinical care. We study the interventions as they are routinely used clinically, as opposed to studying interventions delivered as part of a clinical trial. The ultimate goal of practice based research is to understand the delivery of recommended intervention to the right person at the right time. Embedded in that goal is to make sure that we understand the right dose or, as I like to say, the right pace of treatment. It is my belief that practice based research is THE appropriate venue to provide patients, providers and payers with real world evidence that can be used to directly inform clinical practice—especially for integrative health and medicine interventions for pain conditions.

How do you see you working with AACIPM?

I’ll be honest, I had not been aware of AACIPM until recently. However, as a researcher interested in how research can inform policy to help patients, I am a firm believer that collaboration is key to our shared success. And that collaborating with the right people is vital to getting things done. Accordingly, I see that AACIPM is an initiative including the right people with a focus and passion that resonates with me!

So I see myself working with AACIPM by offering to act: (1) as a stakeholder for AACIPM’s current and future initiatives, (2) a direct conduit to the Consortium’s research working group and (3) as a link to my home institution, Connor Integrative Health Network University Hospitals, which has a shared mission with AACIPM!