The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is involved in ongoing interactions with health care, wellness and medical organizations with several goals and objectives in mind:
- To influence the health care community so it acknowledges the value of massage therapy and professional massage therapists;
- To educate all in the health care and wellness industries about the benefits of massage therapy and the growing body of research that supports its value;
- To increase collaboration between AMTA, its members and other health care and wellness industry leaders;
- To enhance the potential for massage therapists to practice in collaboration with other health care providers and in integrative care; and,
- To increase the overall acceptance of massage therapy and advance professional opportunities for all massage therapists.
AMTA’s Health Care Relationships
“We have built many health care relationships over the years,” says AMTA President Glenath E. Moyle. “We have learned what leaders in health care think of massage therapy and what we need to do to increase their confidence in what we massage therapists do. As we pursue these relationships, we also are careful to protect our profession and not give it away. We are at the table with these people and they generally respect both AMTA and massage therapy.”
Health care in the U.S. has been in a state of turmoil for the last few years and AMTA expects much of that to continue as it relates to massage therapy. Examples of massage being integrated into health care are becoming common and positive results from the programs are getting attention. This was particularly evident at the 7th annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium in March, and the Health Professions Network Summit and the National Institutes of Health/NCCAM Stakeholder Roundtable in April. Leaders in health care acknowledged that health care in the country needs to change and all recognized integrative approaches to care as an important trend.
At the March meeting the integrative program at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing was featured in a panel discussion. In April, AMTA announced its collaboration with the Institute on a research analysis of the effectiveness of therapeutic massage in care provided to inpatients in the hospital from July 2005 through December 2009. AMTA expects the results of the collaboration and analysis to attract significant attention from the health care and medical community when it is released.
In August of 2010, Susan Rosen of Washington, AMTA’s representative to the American Medical Association Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC), was reappointed for a three-year term. As AMTA’s Primary Advisor to HCPAC, she continues as the massage therapy representative on the committee. In this capacity, she also attended the HCPAC annual meeting last October.
HCPAC serves in an advisory capacity to the AMA CPT Editorial Panel. In addition to the AMTA massage therapist representative, members of HCPAC include representatives from the professions of social work, athletic training, speech therapy, podiatry, pharmacy, optometry, occupational therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, and nursing, as well as physician assistants and dieticians.
This relationship gives AMTA and the massage therapy profession input on review of CPT codes associated with massage therapy. It also ensures AMTA is consulted when codes are edited or introduced that relate to massage therapy. And, as the AMTA representative, Rosen builds relationships and educates other health care professionals, especially those in physical and rehabilitation medicine, about the application and integration of massage therapy in the health care setting.
AMTA’s connections with the AMA and HCPAC also resulted in the creation of a panel discussion for the 2011 AMTA National Convention on the topic of “Navigating the Complex World of Health Care Integration”.
AMTA again provided the AMA with a description of the massage therapy profession for its Health Care Career Directory. This directory provides information on recognized health care fields and what someone can expect if they choose to pursue a career in massage therapy. It is also used as a resource by those in a variety of health care professions. AMTA has provided this updated description for nearly ten years, further cementing recognition by the AMA of massage therapists as health care professionals.
AMTA continues as a member of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), which seeks to create and sustain a network of national complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) educational organizations and agencies.
The Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) is a broad coalition of health care professionals and organizations focused on public policy to ensure all Americans access to safe, high quality, integrated health care. AMTA is a member of IHPC’s “Partners in Health”, an inter-disciplinary forum of various CAM and integrated health care professions.
AMTA also recognizes it can learn from and contribute to international discussions on integrative health care. The association has participated in discussions with groups from several countries on integrating massage therapy and CAM therapies into health care, including those through it relationship with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada. The association also was invited to a European conference in 2010. Our representative made a presentation at the meeting held in France, to discuss the development of the massage therapy profession in Europe.
What Does this Mean for Massage Therapists?
The American Massage Therapy Association is actively engaged every day in advancing the profession. These relationships with the health care/medical communities provide a strong voice for those massage therapists who seek to work within health care, while recognizing and protecting the rights of those massage therapists who practice in other sectors of the massage therapy profession.
Further acceptance of massage therapy as a viable part of health care and wellness will benefit all in the profession. Not only will it present new work potential for those who want to work within health care, it will provide all massage therapists with confirming support for what they do, whether it is in private practice, in a spa or health club, a massage therapy franchise, or with a sports team.
AMTA anticipates a growing body of research on the efficacy of massage therapy in the next few years. The association will use this research and its ongoing and new relationships in health care to advance the massage therapy profession in the eyes of the medical profession and the public. And, as this expands, those who choose to seek health insurance reimbursement will have more leverage with insurance companies.
With its health care goals in mind, and the growth in that part of massage therapy opportunity, AMTA’s 2011 National Convention will provide a special health care track again this year. This is an opportunity for massage therapists, whether they are AMTA members or not, to learn more about gaining access to work in health care facilities, the role of massage therapy in integrated care, and massage in hospice care. Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic will discuss their research on the efficacy of massage therapy.