The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) continues to be 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
Massage is increasingly accepted by consumers as an important component of their health and wellness. Meanwhile, new clinical massage research is also getting the attention of more people in the medical community. The health care situation in the U.S. is constantly changing and is even more complex in light of the Affordable Care Act.
“We have gained the respect of many in health care and they recognize AMTA as the best resource for information about massage therapy,” says AMTA President Winona Bontrager. “They appreciate AMTA’s approach to massage therapy and health care and look to us for input to better understand how massage therapy and massage therapists can continue to be more integrated into health and wellness care.”
Involvement in National and International Health Care Meetings
As part of its involvement with leading health care organizations, AMTA has been an active participant in several industry meetings in 2012-13. These have included the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health; the International Medical Program’s Integrative Oncology Healthcare Professional Training Conference; the Annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium; the International Congress for Educators in Complementary and Integrative Medicine; and, the Third International Fascia Research Congress. These meetings continued to validate that leaders in health care are acknowledging that health care in our country needs change; and integrative approaches for patient care are important trends that need cultivation. They also provided opportunities for AMTA to forge new relationships with many leaders in health care who can influence the further acceptance of massage therapy.
For example, AMTA’s participation in the International Medicine Program’s 1st Annual Integrative Oncology Healthcare Professional Training Conference in February 2013 allowed AMTA to gain valuable insight and perspective from one of the foremost integrative oncology programs in the country. This perspective will assist AMTA as it continues its approaches to healthcare. The goal of the conference was to review the principles and disciplines of integrative oncology and to identify indications and contraindications for complementary therapies within the cancer population. The conference was designed for physicians, nurses, social workers, dieticians and other healthcare professionals who care for cancer patients and have an interest in better understanding integrative oncology.
The networking connections made at this conference will also help reinforce AMTA’s commitment to quality massage education and our willingness to be collaborative partners in projects that will help advance the art, science and practice of massage therapy.
AMTA Relations with the American Medical Association (AMA)
Susan Rosen of Washington State continues to serve as AMTA’s representative to the AMA’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC). As AMTA’s Primary Advisor to HCPAC, she is the massage therapy representative on the committee. HCPAC serves in an advisory capacity to the AMA CPT Editorial Panel. This relationship gives AMTA and the massage therapy profession input on review of CPT codes associated with massage therapy.
AMTA also continues to provide the AMA with an updated description of the massage therapy profession for its Health Care Career Directory. This directory provides information on recognized health care fields and is also used as a resource by those in a variety of health care professions.
Massage Therapy and the Affordable Care Act
AMTA has been actively engaged with federal agencies and U.S. congressional offices, since the Affordable Care Act was introduced more than three years ago, about its impact on massage therapists and those they serve. AMTA is approaching the ACA in a very practical and systematic way, which will promote and protect the best interests of massage therapists and avoids jumping in too quickly and making assumptions that might prove counter-productive.
The association is moving forward with a plan for vetted research to make the case for massage as an integrated part of health care. This will provide a foundation for all we do at the national level and what we will pursue in each state. This also will ensure that what we bring forward is valid and relevant to the process of achieving acceptance within the framework of the ACA.
Anyone following the evolution of the ACA is likely aware that dates for implementation, as well as interpretations of its meanings and legal decisions, are still very much in a state of flux. Therefore, AMTA is continuing to directly engage both the congressional offices of those who developed the legislation and the government agencies that will be implementing the new law.
Public Education and Engagement with Health Care Centers
- Since spring 2012, AMTA has issued three Research Roundups that summarize a variety of research on the health benefits of massage therapy. These Roundups were distributed to health and medical publications, as well as consumer media outlets. Excerpts from them and the research they cite has been published by several medical and health care publications and online sources with a total audience reach of well over 100 million.
- AMTA’s 2013 Massage Therapy Tour, which primarily reaches out to consumers to educate them on the health benefits of massage therapy included educational stops at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting and offices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. AMTA members engaged these health care professionals in discussions about the growing body of research on massage therapy, how to find qualified massage therapists and how massage therapy is being integrated into health care in a variety of settings.
- Through a collaboration of relationship building and communications, AMTA is engaged in ongoing conversations with major medical centers about integration of massage therapy into patient care
What Does All of 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 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.
As the body of research on the efficacy of massage therapy is expanded and results published, AMTA will continue to use the research and its relationships in health care to advance the massage therapy profession in the eyes of the medical profession and the public.