From the Director: Reflections on 2016

Greetings and happy holidays!

Throughout many parts of the world, the end of the year is a time for thanksgiving, celebration, reflection, assessment, planning, and hope.  Here at the administrative offices of DO-Touch.NET, the network whose purpose is to assist in advancing health through research on osteopathic manipulative medicine, we are thankful for the work that you do and your intention to contribute to real world research in OMM.  In an era of great change within the healthcare system, it is critical now for clinicians and patients to proactively participate in shaping healthcare.  One way of doing this is by contributing to research which establishes the evidence from which healthcare policy is created.

Within DO-Touch.NET, significant growth occurred in 2016.  In the past year, the network has grown to 277 members, an increase of 83.  There are 202 clinicians who practice in the USA, 56 in Germany, and 19 from other locations around the globe. “Active members,” those who have contributed data to DO-Touch.NET research projects within a three-year period, has increased to 87 members,  over 30% of the membership.  A study group has formed within DO-Touch.NET, called the Pediatric Research Alliance, to evaluate OMT in the pediatric population.  They have been routinely meeting to design their first study which we hope will be launched in 2017.

In DO-Touch.NET’s current study assessing adverse events after OMT (AE study), we have the goal of 50 clinicians within the USA collecting data from 1000 unique patients (in other words, each clinician contributing data from 20 unique patient visits).  As of Dec. 2016, we have collected data on 465 patients, 13 clinicians have completed data collection, and 28 are currently enrolling.  In a parallel study occurring in Germany, 6 clinicians have completed data collection and 13 are enrolling.

With deeper reflection, it becomes clear that our success rate is not meeting the network’s goals.  Data collection for the AE study was to be completed in September 2016 and now 3 months later, we are not half way to achieving the study’s goals.  This study was designed to be extremely simple for clinic office staff and patients to manage.  We hoped that clinicians would be able to complete their role in the study in 1-2 months, but at this time, it is taking an average of 8 months.  Generating evidence to influence healthcare policy requires timely performance and dissemination of research.  Timely performance and dissemination of research also leads to better funding and more influential study designs.  We have to do better if we are going to meet our purpose of influencing the evolution of healthcare. 

Now there are great opportunities but great risks for not producing quality research in OMM.  As a result, this year’s DO-Touch.NET Annual Meeting is entitled “Building a Research Culture in OMM:  Advances, Limitations, and Opportunities.”  This half day meeting will occur Wednesday afternoon, March 22, from 1-5 pm at the Broadmoor Hotel prior to the AAO Convocation.  The meeting time and location was set up to make it easy for members attending the Convocation to come in a little early and participate in the DO-Touch.NET Annual Meeting.

Let’s make 2017 a golden year for research in osteopathic medicine.  There has been no better time for incorporating research into your practice.  Just see how easy it is to participate by giving our network manager, Lisa Norman, a call.

We also are looking forward to seeing you at the Convocation and especially at the Annual Meeting.