Pilot Projects

Our Progress
A critical element of The Institute for Functional Medicine’s Strategic Plan is collaboration—with academic institutions, employers, insurers, government agencies, and other groups—to implement pilot programs demonstrating how this model will improve health outcomes and reduce costs in the marketplace.

Academic Programs:
A total of 71 academic medicine, nutrition, and residency programs have participated in IFM’s functional medicine education courses, including leading institutions such as Dartmouth, Harvard, University of California, and Yale. (Click here for Academic Medicine Residency Nutrition program list) Of these, 18 are introducing functional medicine into their curriculum. (Click here for Curriculum Initiatives) These substantive changes—much appreciated by the students and residents who attend the courses—help replace an outdated model of clinical medicine with one that incorporates the latest findings in genetics, basic science and systems biology, and is proactive, predictive, and personalized .

IFM has also committed to co-developing pilot curriculum materials for medical education with a number of different institutions. Two examples: In collaboration with IFM, the University of Miami is offering a 100-hour, two-year Clinical Nutrition/Functional Medicine Educational Project. This pilot program is designed to evaluate and then develop guidelines for clinical nutrition curriculum in various medical settings. The Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program has received a $1.2 million grant for a pilot project to establish a Medical Symptom Reduction Clinic (MSRC) utilizing the functional medicine model and a chronic-care team approach for patient care. (Click here for full press release)  

Private Sector Industry, Insurers, Government Agencies:
Doors are beginning to open for the integration of functional medicine into the nation’s healthcare system. Corporations such as Google, American Express, and Twitter are exploring the whole-systems approach of functional medicine. Medical leaders at major insurers, including CIGNA, are considering the use of functional medicine in pilot projects for chronic disease. Faith-based communities are embracing the functional medicine model for their congregants. The Veteran’s Administration is exploring research programs in functional medicine. Supported by 12 Senators, Medicare is piloting a program to lower premiums for participants in intensive lifestyle treatment programs.

Nationally, functional medicine has made a significant impression on leaders in government and medicine: In 2009, the US Senate invited testimony on health reform, where functional medicine was brought to the attention of key policymakers. Additional productive discussions with legislative leaders and staff followed that opportunity. Senator Harkin now keeps a copy of the Textbook of Functional Medicine in his Senate office. That same year, IFM’s white paper, 21st Century Medicine: A New Model for Medical Education and Practice, was published and disseminated widely to critical acclaim. With the passage of healthcare reform legislation in 2010, the National Council on Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health was established and will have an advisory group that includes leaders in functional medicine.

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