FDA’s Education Blueprint for HCPs Provides a Shot in the Arm for Chiropractors

Chiropractic CareProviders of nonpharmacologic therapies such as chiropractic care and acupuncture got a boost when a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) education blueprint for healthcare providers (HCPs) acknowledged the relevance of these options for pain management. In addition to the dealing with complexities of chiropractic medical billing, chiropractors have been lobbying for a bigger role in pain management. So the preliminary endorsement from federal health officials which was released in May certainly came as a shot in the arm for chiropractors and acupuncturists.

The FDA’s final blueprint proposes changes on educating HCPs about treating pain. The new guidelines recommend that physicians get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as treatment options that could help patients avoid prescription opioids.

Statnews reported that the agency said, “Health care providers should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management”.

Among other things, the FDA noted in its proposal that a number of nonpharmacologic therapies are available that can play an important role in the management of pain, especially musculoskeletal pain and chronic pain. The agency endorses chiropractic as a complementary pain management therapy. The most significant takeaway is that the agency reiterates that HCPs should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as a part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.

Chiropractors have scored major victories in recent times. Starting 2016, Oregon’s Medicaid program covers chiropractic care for lower back pain. Other states are considering similar measures, says the StatNews report. Earlier this year, the chiropractic industry was elated when the American College of Physicians recommended chiropractic care as one of the primary non-surgical options for treating lower back pain.

Many recent reports indicate that chiropractic treatment is gaining traction. A recent article in The Joint points out millennials are opting for chiropractic because they want to avoid medication and prefer natural, non-invasive therapies to heal their bodies.

Chiropractic CareResearchers are also constantly seeking scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of this non-invasive therapy. In February 2017, ScienceDirect published a study which provides a summary of evidence-informed best practices for doctors of chiropractic for the evaluation, management, and manual treatment of older adult patients. It is estimated that about 15% of people who seek chiropractic care are aged 65 and older. According to the study, in addition to managing musculoskeletal symptoms, doctors of chiropractic could also provide a diverse range of services to aging patients and may play an important role as a member of the health care team.

As the popularity of chiropractic treatment soars, providers will need effective chiropractic medical billing services to ensure appropriate reimbursement. Many insurance plans do cover a specific number of chiropractic services per person, but there are many coverage limitations as chiropractic services are very specialized. For instance, coverage is restricted to treatment of the spine by manual manipulation, to correct a subluxation of one of the vertebral joints. To obtain reimbursement, the medical documentation should clearly indicate the exact location of the subluxation, which range from the occiput vertebrae in the neck to the sacral vertebrae and coccyx. Partnering with an experienced medical billing company could be the best option for chiropractors to ensure proper claim submission in accordance with such guidelines and ensure optimal reimbursement.

The FDA’s blueprint is part of a strategy set into motion in 2011 to address the prescription drug opioid crisis. The 2017 blueprint mentioned chiropractic care and acupuncture for the first time. The FDA is now looking to educate HCPs on a wider range of pain management strategies, including nonpharmacologic options.