Number of Hospitals Offering Alternative Medicine Triples

Thanks to patient demand for low-risk therapies, including massage, guided imagery, meditation and Reiki, the number of hospitals offering complementary and alternative medical services tripled since 2000, according to a report by

Today, 42 percent of the 714 hospitals surveyed reported offering alternative therapies and executives listed patient demand as the top criterion in choosing which therapies to offer, according to a report released in September by the American Hospital Assn.’s Health Forum and the Samueli Institute – a think tank that supports alternative medicine. This compares to only 14 percent of hospitals in 2000.

“They are responding to the needs of their patients and the communities they are serving, while trying to differentiate themselves in the marketplace,” Sita Ananth, a Samueli Institute researcher who wrote the report said in the article. “These hospitals are really trying to see how they can address the needs of the person as a whole – mind, body and spirit.”

Additionally, almost two-thirds of hospitals offering alternative services provide massage on an outpatient basis, and half offer pet therapy in the hospital, the report stated. Approximately 40 offer acupuncture or music and art therapies, as well, based on the survey conducted in March 2010. And when it comes to Reiki treatments, one in five of the hospitals offer this therapy.

Patients usually pay for these services out of pocket, although hospitals offer them free 44 percent of the time, according to the report.