A Resting of the Soul
In my pursuit of being a skilled health care provider, I focus on reading journals, attending classes, staying current on medicinal research, and choosing the correct billing codes. However, most of us would never have started down this career path if there wasn't something more.
End of Life Treatment
TCM looks death in the face. We do not camouflage it as if it were poisonous. "We must allow our patients to die but we cannot allow them to perish," was my first lesson the day I met my teacher as a teenager.
The Secondary Insurance Plan
I have a patient that has Medicare, but also has a secondary insurance plan that does cover acupuncture. How do I bill Medicare to get a denial so that I may bill this secondary payer?
Blockchain Health Records?
Keeping data secure has become a nightmare for the average consumer. Just consider general user account hacks on Yahoo (3 billion records compromised), eBay (145 million records compromised) and Facebook (87 million records compromised), to health record breaches involving Anthem Blue Cross (78 million records compromised) and TRICARE (almost 5 million records compromised).
Art of the Associateship: It's OK to Trust, But Verify
Trust is a valuable part of any business relationship. It serves as the foundation for all business operations and ultimately long-term success for owners, employees and customers. This is especially true in the world of health care.
Reducing Hip, Knee & Shoulder Replacements (Part 2)
In the first article in this series, "Early Detection Reduces Hip, Knee, & Shoulder Replacements," I described time tested screening procedures and perspectives as indicators of when to encourage your patients to seek further medical evaluation.
Autoimmunity, Gut Health and Diet: Connect the Dots
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), autoimmune disease is recognized in approximately 24 million individuals in the U.S., consisting of more than 80 various disorders that contribute to the top 10 causes of death in female children and women of all age groups.
Doc, Are You a Social Media Holdout? Your Future Is Now
Whether you like it or not, to compete in any business, even chiropractic, you really should know and consider using social media. It is no longer a small, sleepy, local world we live in; it has become a far-reaching community.
Confessions of a Former Drug Rep: Statins Are Endangering Your Overweight Patients
As I sit at my desk on the sixth anniversary of my successful liver transplant, I can't help but reflect on what caused that life-threatening ordeal. Looking back on my personal situation, I want to offer my insight into what is happening routinely to many patients.
Why Take X-Rays When You Already Have an MRI?
Let's clear up the issue regarding the efficacy of plain-film studies when an MRI study has already been performed. I review imaging studies primarily for chiropractors, and often their patients have been to other health care providers before finding their way to a DC.
#TechPain: Causes, Solutions
For the past several decades, the science of ergonomics has blossomed. The workplace is much safer and life is generally more pleasant thanks to the application of ergonomic principles.
The Certified Practitioner
Certified Chinese herb practitioners often identify themselves with the credentials "LAc" (Licensed acupuncturist).
Help Shape the New Neck Pain Best Practices Guideline
The Clinical Compass (originally the Council on Guidelines and Practice Parameters – CCGPP) has issued a call for interested chiropractic clinicians to help shape a new best practices guideline for chiropractic care of neck pain.
News in Brief
WFC Among Founding Members of Global Rehab Alliance; HealthSource Selects GoChiroTV as Exclusive Digital Signage Partner; Western States' Online Degree Programs Among Best in the Nation; Logan University, University of Missouri-St. Louis Forge Partnership.
Facebook Marketing 101
Many of the health care practitioners we work with have smaller practices. The provider tends to wear many hats – office manager, salesperson and healer.
It's All About That Ki
As an industry are we shifting too much toward a Western mind set? We strive to understand how acupuncture works using imaging and extensive studies. We spend numerous hours of our training learning Western medicine and learning to speak their language. What happened to our core though?
A Bold Strategy to Take Chiropractic to New Heights
Building public awareness of an entire profession requires strategic planning – especially when it pertains to the exploration of ground-breaking marketing tactics that target new audiences with key messaging about the value of chiropractic care.
NCCAOM: A Route to National Certification
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is offering a route to achieve national certification—without having to take any of the NCCAOM exams. This is specifically for California licensed acupuncturists that meet the eligibility requirements.
Trending: CBD / Hemp Oil
A recent survey of DCs regarding cannabidiol (CBD) / hemp oil provides food for thought as to the viability of CBD-based products as a component of chiropractic patient care. Here are some observations from the executive summary of the survey:
"Community Care" for Vets: It's Really a Big Deal!
As a preamble, while I regrettably never served in the military, I have the highest respect for those who did and those who currently serve.
Why the Automatic Denials for Modifiers 25 and 59?
Your experience is one shared by many chiropractic providers who bill through those plans. It appears to be the national trend, but by far is more prominent in Texas and Illinois.
The Classical Texts & Integrative Medicine
The acupuncture profession has been undergoing many changes in the past years. There has been a shift towards a more integrative approach to medicine as more hospitals include integrative departments.
UnitedHealthcare Can't Seem to Keep Chiropractic Down
AA decade ago, UnitedHealthcare announced changes to its chiropractic services policy that declared manipulative therapy for headache unproven.
Vaccines & Autism (Part 1)
It turns out chronic inflammation is the driver of autism expression. Unfortunately, those who emotionally embrace the vaccine issue rarely, if ever, consider this relationship, which hinders a rational view of the vaccine issue.
Treating Pain With Nutrition
Back in 1910, when D.D. Palmer published The Chiropractor's Adjuster and introduced the world to what he called the "triad of health" – thoughts, trauma and toxins – he explained that the body can only be made optimally healthy if all three aspects of health are addressed.
Does Dairy Cause Dampness?
The topic of dairy consumption was brought up at a scalp acupuncture seminar I recently attended.
CBD for Athletes: The Advantages of Cannibidiol
For athletes, pain is often part of their sport or activity. And to a certain extent, it is to be expected. However, after pushing themselves to the limit, soreness and fatigue set in, hampering their ability to perform and recover.
Valuable Adjunctive Therapies
Based on the latest CDC statistics, more than 795,000 Americans have strokes per year, 140,000 of which are lethal. Approximately 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic with an estimated health care and missed work cost of $34 billion annually.1
October, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 10
Understanding the Difference Between Clinical and Spa Massage
By Christy Schumacher, NCTMB
As most of us in the massage profession recognize of late, we are splitting into two fairly divergent, yet equally important industries. The most prominent and popular industry is the personal services massage industry.Many refer to this as "spa" or "relaxation" massage (for the purposes of this article I will refer to this as spa massage). The second and more recently emerging industry is "clinical" (or medical) massage therapy. These and other terms get thrown around a lot, and can cause a tremendous amount of confusion for massage therapists, but more importantly, for consumers. I hear many massage therapists and consumers denigrate spa massage as lesser than clinical massage, and each time it makes me cringe; all professional massage has therapeutic value! However, I also hear an equal number of therapists misrepresent clinical massage. I would like to provide clear and reasonable distinctions to these two types of massage, and hopefully help move both industries forward in a productive way.
It is important to understand that the type of modality that is practiced, from Swedish to Myofacial Release, from Cranio Sacral to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, or from Trigger Point Therapy to Lymphatic Drainage, in no way puts a massage therapist in one category versus another. A spa massage therapist and a clinical massage therapist can, and do, practice all types of modalities in both industries. The ultimate difference is the focus. In spa massage, the therapist is ultimately focused on the satisfaction of the client. The session is often intuitive and compassionate. The environment is private and often includes luxuries that put the client at ease. essions are defined and charged by a set number of minutes the hands are on the body, and tipping is expected. Attention to details such as music, table warmers, aromatherapy and high-end linens is common, and often required to stand out to consumers to get them to return.
In clinical massage, the ultimate focus is on functional outcomes. There is an evidence-based reason why a therapist applies one modality over another and most importantly, results must be measurable. Client satisfaction is often not assessed until the completion of a limited number of treatments, referred to as "treat and release," or the achievement of a specific therapeutic outcome. Finally, the length of the session is often shorter and the number of minutes that are spent with the hands on the body is not a focus point for the session (no more clock watchers!). Prices are defined more often by third party payers (insurance companies), in 15-20 minute increments, and tipping is rarely involved.
Training is another important difference between clinical and spa massage. Basic massage education (often around 500 hours) rarely provides the education required to practice in a clinical setting as a new graduate, but is sufficient for many spa settings. This allows for a new therapist to begin practicing, build their skill set, and most importantly, make money! A new therapist can get a spa massage job and gain the necessary experience and continuing education to tailor their future career to what works best for them. A typical massage graduate requires a period of professional practice and substantial continuing education to be qualified to practice in a clinical setting. Knowledge must be gained that includes assessment and proper documentation of functional pain, lifestyle and ranges of motion. Advanced understanding of pathology and kinesiology also is important.
Credentialing is another important distinction. To practice spa massage, a therapist often is required to be licensed and carry liability insurance. In many clinical settings, additional credentialing is often required such as National Certification, additional professional certificates, continuing education hours and sometimes even professional licenses such as nursing or physical therapy may be helpful to bill insurance (in the interest of full disclosure, I have been a Director for National Certification for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork since 2009).
Most importantly, various details of ethics must be observed and practiced with care. This includes knowing not just your scope of practice as a massage therapist, but also the scopes of practice of your fellow allied health professionals. Clinical massage is often practiced in team-based settings that include colleagues such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, psychologists and orthopedic physicians. Referrals are important. Knowing when to refer your client out and how to communicate that effectively is an important part of clinical massage. Likewise, communicating to allied health colleagues about their patients, and when your skill set may be a more suitable therapy, takes time and patience to develop.
This is certainly not to say that a spa massage therapist does not require proper ethics training to ensure public trust and safety. Basic massage education will include training on maintaining proper records of informed consent, contraindications and limited SOAP note documentation. However, for spa massage, documentation of time and place of a session is often ethically sufficient. When the focus is on measurable outcomes, documentation is just as important as the session itself.
The Bottom Line
I come in contact with numerous massage students and recent graduates at my integrative health clinic. Almost universally, these students and professionals will tell me that they have no interest in working at a spa and want to practice massage that actually "does something." Spa massage does accomplish something! The ability to provide essential relaxation and stress relief is a powerful therapeutic tool. In fact, stress and tension is often the root of physical pain, and needs to be addressed concurrently with any clinical or spa massage.
As a new massage graduate, it is important to recognize that the differences between spa and clinical massage are quite muddy for consumers. If you want to develop your career as a clinical massage therapist, there are important steps to take. First of all, recognize that the best way to get there is getting your hands on as many bodies as possible to develop your skills. A job at a spa is a great place to do this.
Communicate with your clients about why they are on your table and track lifestyle or stress outcomes. If a client comes in with low back pain, ask them on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it now? How bad does it get when it’s at its worst? Ask them what number they are at after your session. If they are coming in for overall stress relief, ask them what their stress does to restrict or impede their lifestyle. How is their sleep, anxiety levels and depression levels? Assign a numeric scale to these questions, document your findings and ask these same questions again on a follow-up visit. Upon their return, ask them the same question and remind them of their previous answers. And above all, DOCUMENT.
Those of us who have been in this industry for a long time recognize that a lot of massage therapists want to be a part of clinical health care teams. More and more opportunities are becoming available, but will require dedication and commitment from the next generation of massage therapists if they are to grow in number. Continue your education. Learn what your allied health colleagues can do to further improve your client’s pain, lifestyle and range of motion limitations. And above all, recognize that any massage you provide for your clients, whether it’s at a fancy spa or in a semi-private clinical setting with bright lights, you are providing them with an invaluable tool to improve their lives.
Christy Schumacher is a medical ethicist and massage therapist who works with integrative health care practitioners to improve access to and utilization of professional massage therapy within conventional medicine. She has a strong background in public health, evidence-based medicine and outcomes-based models of care.
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