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Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP)

Corporate Health Improvement Program Program (CHIP)
University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine

At present, there is an unprecedented upheaval in American business seeking creative solutions to the unchecked rise in medical benefit costs. Although some managed care strategies have slowed the trend, they are not adequate and may often be worse than the problem. A complete resolution requires effective programs in several areas including comprehensive prevention, disease management, and integrative medicine interventions evaluated for both clinical and cost outcome.

This approach requires objective, longitudinal evaluations of both clinical and cost outcomes to determine what does and does not work as a database for formulating corporate and public policy. There is a broader economic dimension to such an approach as well since excessive medical costs have added a disproportionate share to the cost of every product and service during the last decade. Since approximately half of the United State» annual medical budget of $1.5 Trillion (15.3% of 2003 GDP) is in the hands of private corporations, there is a major movement underway to determine the relative portion to be expended on true health care, rather than exclusively on disease treatment.

Integrative Medicine provides solutions for this problem

Integrative Medicine (IM) is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the doctor-patient relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. In the case of heart disease, for example, a conventional medical approach would focus on diagnosis and treatment to include medications, medical management of risk factors and surgery if all else fails. There are ongoing morbidity and mortality risks associated with conventional therapy as well as increasing costs in both health care utilization and lost productivity. The Integrative Medicine approach focuses on lifestyle interventions such as diet, exercise,, mind-body modalities which are lower in cost and have firm evidence-based support. This type of comprehensive approach is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality and is more cost-effective.

Corporate Health Improvement Program

Beginning in 1984, the Corporate Health Improvement Program was founded by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco with a grant from the Bank of America Foundation. The purpose of Corporate Health Improvement Program was to develop and evaluate innovative preventive health and medical interventions for both clinical and cost effectiveness. The Corporate Health Improvement Program was transferred in 1990 to Stanford University School of Medicine where it was known as the Stanford Corporate Health Program.

Due to the growing interest in and success of Integrative Medicine, in 2004, the Corporate Health Improvement Program  program has moved to the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.

The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM)

AzCIM was founded by Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona in 1994 with the assistance of a core group of visionary leaders. Generous philanthropists gave AzCIM its start. AzCIM's mission is to foster the transformation of healthcare through innovative educational programs, outstanding research and exceptional clinical care that integrates biomedicine, the complexity of human beings, and the healing power of nature.

AzCIM is the only institution in the world that has taken on the challenge of developing a comprehensive educational program in Integrative Medicine. There are currently three fellowship training programs for physicians: a Residential Fellowship, an NIH-sponsored Research Fellowship and a distributed learning Associate Fellowship. AzCIM provides educational experiences for medical students and residents as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in Integrative Medicine. One of the newer programs involves a one-year Fellowship for the Department of Defense and collaboration with six Family Medicine Residence programs that will create a national model of a combined family medicine residency and Integrative Medicine Fellowship.

Click here to visit the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine website.

Member Companies

Among the member companies participating in the Corporate Health Improvement Program are: Corning, Ford, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Knight Ridder, NASA, National Grid, Nestle, Partnership for Prevention. The CHIP membership also includes Scottsdale Healthcare major health plans like Prudential Insurance and American Specialty Health. Many have been members throughout the entire 18 years of the Corporate Health Improvement Program. Initial research projects ranged from the first mobile mammography screening project at Levi-Strauss to a five year evaluation of an innovative PPO at Southwestern Bell Corporation in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson.

Since the Corporate Health Improvement Program began in 1984, it has been deliberately maintained as a small, select and evolving program in order to address specific requests by the Corporate Health Improvement Program member companies to conduct research projects in areas of interest to their employees.

At the twice yearly meetings, the medical and/or personnel directors of member corporations decide upon mutually interesting research projects to be implemented and evaluated within their companies. Each project is developed over a period of three to five years:

Year 1: Identification of areas of mutual interest in the coalition of university and corporate representatives through a series of needs assessments and structured planning meetings
Year 2-3:

Develop, implement, and evaluate mutually agreed upon programs in prevention and disease management using an integrative medicine approach with the criteria that these be workable in any business or organization nationwide, and that self-care and employee leadership be emphasized. Focus is upon both clinical and cost effectiveness analysis.

Year 4-5: Conduct full-scale, longitudinal studies. Emphasis will continue to be on the development and evaluation of practical programs in health promotion for business and industry.

Among the areas of research and development in the program are:

  1. Applications of meditation and relaxation for stress management

  2. Physical fitness and back saver programs

  3. Integrative approaches to anxiety and depression in the workplace

  4. Lifestyle management of women's health issues

  5. Disease management of hypertension and coronary heart disease

  6. Computer and/or telephone health delivery systems

  7. Early cancer screening, especially mammography for women;

  8. Smoking cessation and policy development                                               '

  9. Health promotion programs to reach minorities, dependents, and retirees

  10. Alcohol and substance abuse programs

  11. Reaching small and/or remote worksites


Corporate Health Improvement Program expects to have a major, practical impact on the redesign of medical benefits and employee health programs of the corporate members. Based on the objective findings of both clinical and cost effectiveness, the medical and human resource directors will be able to document the positive impact of health plan innovations.

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