The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4107.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - Board 9

Abstract #63491

ABC codes for alternative medicine, nursing and other integrative healthcare practices: The missing link in the HIPAA code sets, the national health information infrastructure and cost-effective, evidence-based care

Connie L. Koshewa, CPM, MPH, Department of Research & Code Development, Alternative Link, Inc, 6121 Indian School Rd. Suite 131, Albuquerque, NM 87110, 505-875-0001, and Synthia L. Molina, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Alternative Link, Inc., 6121 Indian School Rd, Suite 131, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

Abstract: Objective:

Develop a set of codes to standardize descriptions of integrative healthcare products and services and thereby support integrative healthcare research, management and commerce, and health policy decision making.


A team of researchers used exploratory and case study methods, supplemented by subject matter expert reviews, to characterize over a dozen categories of integrative healthcare practices including several with energy and spirituality-based approaches to care.

The team then developed an alphabetic coding system that was compatible with the prevailing medical coding systems, data fields, software and Internet applications, and healthcare information systems.

For each term, the team assigned a representative five-character alphabetic code string.

For each practitioner type, the team assigned a two-character alphanumeric code.

More than 4,200 integrative healthcare interventions were coded to create a comprehensive set of codes of value in research projects, management processes and business transactions.


The code set, called ABC codes, is being evaluated in a nationwide demonstration project in support of late stage review as a national standard by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The codes have been incorporated into one major software application for claims adjudication and in use in government, community and academic demonstration projects.


The ABC code set fills critical gaps in the nationís HIPAA code sets and the national health information infrastructure (NHII). The codes will provide a more complete and accurate picture of U.S. healthcare in support of health policy decision making.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Alternative Medicine/Therapies, Public Health Research

Related Web page:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Alternative Link & the ABC codes and The Foundation for Integrative Healthcare (FIHC). DHHS approved the first exception to the HIPAA rules on January 16, 2003, which allows the ABC codes for integrative healthcare to be tested nationally.
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: Employed as Director of Research & Code Development by Alternative Link

Introduction to and Considerations in Complementary and Alternative Therapies (CAM)

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA