The transformation of healthcare – The ATP story part 1



Turning Points: The introduction of community acupuncture clinics to The Acupuncture Turning Point reflects not only a change for us, but also a significant transformation in this era of technological and material wealth, and personal choices.  

Last year (2012) was a “turning point”; not only for us in how we practice, but also in how we have come to better understand the relevance in the shift occurring in knowledge, power and choices for each individual of our society. We really started to live the principles of our vision – ‘Optimum, accessible, and sustainable healthcare for all, through quality services and partnerships, and the mindful integration of traditional and modern systems.’  We believe our vision embodies many of the challenges, dilemmas, and opportunities of our time.

The community acupuncture experiment: We introduced community acupuncture in early 2012 as an experiment to see if we could make acupuncture more accessible for those who could not afford the cost of private treatments, but to do it in a clinic that simultaneously offers private treatments. Although this trial service turned out to be much more complex than we thought at first, it served to make us more aware of some important conflicting issues for both patients and practitioners alike. In community clinics people are treated in open areas in a group setting while relaxing in lounge chairs.  Although it has some obvious limitations, the biggest advantage of course is a much reduced cost. Some people also really like the community feel.  Now, with the recent expansion of our clinic space, community acupuncture is an integral part of our regular service.  Private room treatments are still the cornerstone of our practice, since, more often than not, clients need and benefit from the extra time and privacy for a more thorough assessment and treatment.  This is especially true on one’s first visit to us or if something significant is changing in a client’s condition, or anything that requires more practitioner time, assessment, privacy, or a treatment table.  From a business perspective, we designed it to work out the same for us either way, where both private room treatments and community clinics can coexist as financially sustainable and fair services.  The difference in our practice now is that we offer people a choice so they can explore which combination of private and community treatments works best for them.  Our original motivation, which sustains us still today, was simple – we wanted to serve our clients better. 

What we are and what we are not: Whether in a private room or a community clinic venue, we help people look after their own health as they are ready, and in ways which make sense to them.  We are definitely NOT an alternative to western medical intervention in disease management; rather, we are a vital and necessary complement to the established system.  We are intimately associated, but represent the other-side-of-the-coin, to “disease-care”.  We make the extra effort and take the extra time to walk the slow and non-heroic, mundane path with our clients in their “health-care” — in the literal sense of the word.  For us, the process and attitude of each client in discovering how to improve his or her well being can be as important, if not more, than the research and technical aspects behind the procedures a healthcare (or disease-care) practitioner is performing.   Our professional expertise, and the collective expertise and services of all the other professionals that form a broader support team in a person’s life, represent a set of tools that us consumers need when taking responsibility for our health — and diseases.  Ironically, even though both I and Alina Tousseeva, another acupuncturist at ATP, have extensive scientific research and medical backgrounds, like all at ATP, we affirm that the process of health goes far beyond technology and techniques that diagnose and manage diseases. When we use the word “holistic” in describing what we do, we use it in a literal manner to embrace WHOLE ways of knowing — from the profoundly powerful and life-saving nature of modern science and “evidence-based” medicine, to the more subtle and no-less-profound experiential, intuitive and unique personal knowledge each of us gains from living in a human body.

Future articles on our story, and the dilemmas and transformation of healthcare: It hasn’t been as we thought it would be. As with the best gems in life, the path is not straight.  What appears to be on the surface, is something else underneath.  In a series of articles over the next few newsletters (or you can just follow us on our blog), I will tell our story about discovering and facing dilemmas and balancing priorities between business efficiency and what is best for our clients. I believe this story touches a nerve for many health and disease care practitioners.  I will describe how introducing community acupuncture into the fabric of a private treatment clinic has shaped our attitudes, and has affected the well being of the concerned people who come to us for assistance when something is not right.   I will share how I personally feel our story relates to the bigger transformation going on in every aspect of healthcare, and how these changes may affect our choices of health – and disease – in the future.

Next article: The healthcare practitioner’s basic dilemma: process efficiency or client’s needs first.