Are massage therapists healthcare providers?
What does it mean to be a healthcare provider?
A healthcare provider is defined as:
Health care provider means a provider of services (as defined in section 1861 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395x(u)), a provider of medical or health services (as defined in section 1861(s) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395x(s)), and any other person or organization who furnishes, bills, or is paid for health care in the normal course of business.
Many states recognize massage therapists as healthcare providers when they have laws that make it so massage therapists are healthcare providers. There are about 25 states that license massage therapists as healthcare providers. I have been trying to get people from each state to investigate their status and confirm whether or not they are HCP’s in that state but not having much luck. I even emailed every President and Government relations person in each State AMTA Chapter a few years ago and got little to no response. No one seems to know, which is really quite interesting.
Other states may not have the supportive legislation that officially makes massage therapists healthcare providers, but they may be licensed by the State Department of Health or be under the Board of Nursing or Chiropractic or other health departments.
Any massage therapist in any state can apply for and receive a National Provider Identification number (NPI). Only people who are healthcare providers can get an NPI. Does that make us officially a health care provider?
Will it take more training in Medical Massage or Clinical Massage? Read my article on Medical Massage— there is no ONE type of massage that is medical massage. What we do have are many techniques and methods which can ALL be applied to the various medical conditions such as headaches, fibromyalgia, back and neck pain, pain of all sorts, anxiety and depression, and much more.
Learn anatomy and physiology. Learn Pathology. (link to Amazon books on Pathology). Learn everything you can about the various conditions and learn how to apply whatever type of massage that you do know to various conditions. Don’t be afraid to work slowly and learn as you go. Don’t be sucked in by the many classes and teachers offering medical massage classes or take them all.
Evidence Based Massage therapy
Do we have enough evidence to say we are have evidence based massage therapy? No.
We do have enough to start saying that we have evidence informed massage therapy.
The research that we do have shows promising in many areas. We do have more Systematic Reviews than ever before.
What needs to be done to get massage therapy to be included in healthcare and to be recognized as health care providers across the US? See my post on Healthcare Integration and join my Healthcare Integration group on Facebook.
Oh and I just found this post from 5 years ago that I made on the topic – Massage therapy wants to be healthcare.