Innovation and Progress

Webinar in recognition of September being Pain and Self Care Awareness Month!

AACIPM is launching a new series on Innovation and Progress.

Our focus is to connect the dots to advance equitable, whole person, multimodal, integrative pain management. This series will include panel discussions, interviews, and resources that explore some cutting-edge innovations related to pain care with a particular focus to support those interested in integrating more complementary and integrative health (CIH) and behavioral therapies into their practice, payment designs, and policies.

The first session in this series, “Innovation in Advancing Equitable, Whole Person, Multimodal Pain Care,” focused on advancements in multimodal pain care from the perspective of public and private insurers, industry, healthcare providers, and people with pain. We will discuss new data and evidence that highlights equity imbalance, and related opportunities to address these challenges.


Robert Kerns, PhD, Yale University, Director, NIH/DOD/VHA Pain Management Collaboratory
Amy Goldstein, MSW, Director, AACIPM

Panel Presenters:

  • Denise Giambalvo, Director of Purchaser Strategies, Washington Health Alliance
  • David Elton, VP, Musculoskeletal R&D, Optum Labs
  • Kate Nicholson, JD, Founder & Director, National Pain Advocacy Center
  • Daniel Blaney-Koen, JD, Senior Legislative Attorney, American Medical Association
  • Ben Kligler, MD, MPH, Veterans Health Administration, Director, Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

Symposium Presenter Bios

Daniel Blaney-Koen, JD

Senior Legislative Attorney, American Medical Association Advocacy Resource Center


Daniel Blaney-Koen is a senior legislative attorney with the American Medical Association Advocacy Resource Center (ARC). Koen has held several roles at the AMA, including serving as a public information officer, policy analyst and speechwriter.

Currently, his focus is on state legislation and policy, including the nation’s opioid epidemic, treatment and prevention, health care costs, and private payers and market reforms. Prior to joining the AMA in 1999, Koen earned his Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Colorado State University, his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Arizona, and his law degree from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

David Elton, DC

VP, Musculoskeletal R&D, Optum Labs


David Elton has been with OptumHealth since 2001 and is responsible for clinical, UM/UR, credentialing, network designation, and professional/government relations functions at OptumHealth. Before joining OptumHealth, Dr. Elton served in a similar role with OptumHealth Care Solutions, LLC. from 1996 until OptumHealth Care Solutions, LLC. was acquired by OptumHealth in 2001. Prior to joining OptumHealth Care Solutions, LLC., Dr. Elton served in a clinical leadership role within a multi-site, multi-state, multi-disciplinary physical rehabilitation company. Dr. Elton obtained his chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University.

Denise Giambalvo

Director of Purchaser Strategies, Washington Health Alliance


Denise Giambalvo is the Alliance’s Director of Purchaser Strategies. In this role she leads collaborative initiatives to reduce low-value care in Washington state, membership development and education for the purchaser members. Previously, Denise was Vice President at Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), where she managed the coordination and marketing of monthly educational programs, social media, newsletters, and employer benchmarking surveys. In addition, Denise led various sponsor and grant-funded projects including the National Employer Initiative on Specialty Drugs.

Prior to MBGH, Denise served as Executive Director for the Employers’ Health Coalition (EHC) in Fort Smith, AR, where she was directly involved in contract negotiations for the PBM, Employers’ Choice Rx. Committed to carrying out the Coalition’s mission to “enhance the general health of the community,” Denise oversaw EHC’s launch of the National Diabetes Prevention Program and negotiated a discounted group rate for employer-sponsored financial well-being programs.

Denise has led team collaborations with stakeholders on research and pilot programs including limited-fill, site-of-service, mental and behavioral health, and data analysis.  Educational activities she has organized have focused on population health management, value-based benefit design, pain management, and analytics.

Denise received her Master’s degree in Human Resource Management in 2012.

Amy Goldstein, MSW

Director, Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management


Amy Goldstein serves as AACIPM’s Director. She founded Healthcare Collaboratives, LLC in 2019 to continue her passion for promoting person-centered health care through alliance building and strategic collaboration—always the foundation behind her work. Amy was previously the Director of State Pain Policy Advocacy Network and later Alliance Development Director for the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM). In that role, she was responsible for the creation, growth and sustainability of this national state-based and federal network to improve person-centered pain policy. Amy has been in the healthcare field for 25 years, advocating for people living with kidney failure, cancer, chronic pain, substance use disorder, mental health issues, and multiple sclerosis.

Robert Kerns, PhD

Yale University; Director, NIH/DOD/VHA Pain Management Collaboratory


Dr. Robert D. Kerns is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Psychology at Yale University. He is one of three directors of the Yale-based NIH-DOD-VA Pain Management Collaboratory Coordinating Center. He retired from VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS) and service to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2016 following a nearly 38 year career during which time he served as VACHS Chief of Psychology (1987-2008) and founding Director of the Pain Research, Informatics, Multimorbidities and Education (PRIME) Center of Innovation (2008-2016), and as VA National Program Director for Pain Management (2006-2013). He received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from West Virginia University in 1974 and his doctorate in Bioclinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1980. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and he has held leadership positions in these and other professional and scientific societies.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 Leadership Award from the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders, the 2006 David M. Worthen Award for Academic Excellence and the 2006 Mark Wolcott Award for Clinical Leadership from the VHA, and the 2010 John and Emma Bonic Public Service Award and 2017 Wilbert E. Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award from the American Pain Society. He serves on the editorial board of several scientific journals, including the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Clinical Journal of Pain, Health Psychology and Pain Medicine. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education and National Pain Management Strategy Oversight Panel that developed a National Pain Strategy for transforming pain care in America. He also served as co-chair of the Federal Interagency Workgroup that produced a National Action Plan for Prevention of Opioid-related Adverse Drug Events. He is currently a member of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee created by the Department of Health and Human Services to enhance pain research efforts and promote collaboration across the government, with the ultimate goals of advancing the fundamental understanding of pain and improving pain-related treatment strategies.

Dr. Kerns’ primary area of scholarly and academic interest is in the fields of behavioral medicine and health psychology, with a more specific interest and expertise in the area of pain and pain management. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed articles, chapters, and books, and he frequently delivers invited addresses at professional and scientific meetings. His research has been funded through the VA, the National Institutes of health and through other federal and private sources for 40 years. His current research focuses on use of large datasets from VA to study pain and pain care among veterans, especially age, gender, and race/ethnicity differences and disparities; developing informatics solutions for extracting information from unstructured electronic health record notes; mechanisms and processes of change during psychological interventions for chronic pain; use of innovative technologies to promote access and fidelity of non-pharmacological pain interventions; and formative evaluation and implementation of organizational improvement initiatives in pain care.

Ben Kligler, MD, MPH

Director, Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, Veterans Health Administration


Dr. Ben Kligler is the Director of the Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, Veterans Health Administration.  He was formerly Co-Director of the Beth Israel Fellowship Program in Integrative Medicine, which accepted its first fellows for training in January 2002, and teaches in the Beth Israel Residency Program in Urban Family Practice. He is former Chair of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Kligler is the author of Curriculum in Complementary Therapies: A Guide for the Medical Educator, and co-editor of Integrative Medicine: Principles for Practice, a textbook published by McGraw-Hill in 2004. He is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing. Dr. Kligler is certified in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and acupuncture.

Kate Nicholson, JD

Founder & Director, National Pain Adovacy Center


Kate Nicholson is a nonprofit founder and executive, and a writer and speaker, who formerly worked as a civil rights and disability rights attorney.

Kate is the founder and executive director of the National Pain Advocacy Center, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that advocates for the health and human rights of people in pain.

She previously served as an attorney and manager in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and is a nationally-recognized expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Kate co-founded and serves on the board of the Denver arts non-profit, Tilt West, and she serves on boards and task forces of other arts, disability rights, and public health organizations.

Kate frequently writes and speaks about the equitable treatment of pain in the context of crises involving opioids and COVID-19. She is writing a memoir about her own twenty-year journey to healing after a surgical injury left her in severe pain, unable to sit or stand, extremely limited in walking, and for many years, bedridden.

Kate also writes and speaks about social justice, social healing, and arts and culture. She was a Senior Fellow at Dartmouth College and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.



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