Updated: May 29, 2019
With 30 years as a Director of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, and its emphasis on the implementation of evidence-based innovation, it is my opinion that the mental health field and health care disciplines remain less than optimally integrated. Even with its core values on prevention and full integration of health care, Kaiser Permanente is not alone in this challenge. A senior Regional Director for Behavioral Health at another very large health plan, upon being asked to consider being an implementation site for a trial of neurofeedback, responded “Unfortunately, at this time, we would not be interested in moving forward with neurofeedback…we, like most non-profits, struggle just to maintain the status quo.”
Nearly thirty years into the era of the brain, the healthcare field has yet to fully recognize the role of brain function in medical conditions and in declining health status and chronic disease . During this same period, a therapeutic method, neurofeedback, has been developed that addresses brain self-regulation as a skill that can be enhanced and recovered where it is deficient. It can be understood in the frame of rehabilitation or of training toward optimum functioning. This training places minimal cognitive demands upon the person and is therefore accessible during all phases of human development. The training affects all regulatory functions under the management of the central nervous system.
In short, I believe that neurofeedback, if widely deployed through the US health care provider infrastructure, offers the prospect of a scalable, relatively inexpensive innovation that can preventively intercede at almost any client age in ways that are immediately effective, produce sustainable results over a very wide range of symptoms and conditions, even with the most resistant non-responding high at-risk populations, reduce medication side effects and ER overutilization and unnecessary hospitalization.
The Neurofeedback Advocacy Project, through its demonstration sites, aspires to provide the compelling outcomes data upon which provider organizations, insurers, and clinical professionals will recognize and act upon the wisdom of more comprehensively integrating this brain-based intervention into their client services. By taking advantage of neurofeedback, an existing, proven clinical tool now available which is too often resisted or dismissed, our health care system could move beyond the status quo mode of mental health and general health care services. These services are unnecessarily expensive, do not meet current needs, and are largely inaccessible to the most at-risk populations.