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cover stories

The Long-Haul View

It’s about patient-centered care

Dr. Christine Goertz often attends healthpolicy meetings in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Herman Farrer Photography)
Dr. Goertz outside of government building, on steps

Palmer’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Health Policy, Christine Goertz, D.C., Ph.D., has devoted her research career to studies that impact patient care, and this has led her to achieve seats at the health-care table at the highest levels.

“Sadly, there’s quite a bit of truth to the old adage, ‘If you aren’t sitting at the table, you’re more likely to be on the menu,’” she says. “Having said that, my overwhelming experience has been that the most common reason why D.C.s aren’t sitting at the table is because no one thought we might be interested in contributing to the discussion.”

When chiropractors are involved in policy discussions with other health-care professionals, everyone benefits, Dr. Goertz adds. “We have a unique contribution to make. Chiropractors bring the perspective of doctors who’ve always had a patientcentered approach, who are experts in treating patients with musculoskeletal conditions—a major cause of disability worldwide— and who offer conservative treatment approaches with a very low risk profile.”

One of her high-profile appointments is as a member of the Board of Governors of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Initiative (PCORI), a nonprofit corporation initiated through the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Goertz is the only chiropractor on a 21- member board that includes the directors of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes of Health, plus 19 members appointed by the Comptroller General of the United States.

PCORI is focused on improving patient care through evidencebased information. “As is true for every member of the PCORI Board of Governors, Methodology Committee and staff, I’m sincerely committed to supporting and disseminating research that can truly make a difference by providing the information patients and clinicians need to make decisions based on the best evidence available,” Dr. Goertz says.

Having a seat at high-level tables like PCORI has given Dr. Goertz the opportunity to inform other health-care professionals about chiropractic. “It’s not at all unusual for me to be the first Doctor of Chiropractic that some of my research and policy colleagues have ever met. This gives me an opportunity to provide information on chiropractic practice and sometimes to clear up misconceptions.”

For those chiropractors interested in working on boards or committees with other health-care professionals, Dr. Goertz recommends determining what your broader interests may be (public health, research, health policy, etc.) and pursuing any additional education that might be required to become an expert in that area. “For the vast majority of committees I sit on, being an excellent Doctor of Chiropractic is necessary but not sufficient,” she says. “You often need to have an additional area of expertise that’s relevant to the goals of the organization or committee.”

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