It’s Official: POCA Is Innovative

Last week we got an email from one of the organizers of the International Summit of Cooperatives — convening this fall in Quebec — about featuring POCA as a case study of “highly innovative cooperatives or ones that provide better access to health care”. The case study consists of  a short text of 3 to 4 paragraphs to describe “the main source of innovation of the co-operative.”

This was fun because it's not very long ago that it seemed like other cooperatives' take on us could generally be summed up not in 3 to 4 paragraphs but in a few words, namely, “What the hell?”

It was also fun because it's a reminder, along with the success of May's membership drive and the 900,000+ treatments of 2013, that what we're doing is actually, noticeably, working — and we had to design POCA without having any assurance at all that it would work. We knew that we needed a new foundation for the practice of acupuncture and we knew that nobody had tried a multi-stakeholder cooperative, but everything else was basically our best guess.

What's really fun is to think about where we can go from here.

Today I heard a quote from Pope Francis that made me think of POCA's progress, and also our future: “Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good…For here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.”

Related Articles

Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Here’s our response to the case study questions:
    1) Could you write a quick description of People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture in 2014 (size, turnover, installations, members, main services offered)?

    2) Could you tell us about the history of People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (when and how was it founded, how it evolved overtime, the key moments of its history)?

    3) What makes People’s Organizations of Community Acupuncture innovative? How does it improve access to health services?

    Total Members: 1684
    POCA Coop’s 4 stakeholder groups consist of:
    Total Patient Members: 1030
    Total Organizational Members: 11
    Total Clinic Members: 191
    Total Punk Members: 633

    New member count from all categories
    436 new since 1/1/2014
    731 new members joined in 2013
    246 new members in 2012

    Membership services differ for POCA member groups and include:
    Patient members: Free birthday treatment, 3 free referral coupons, newsletter and access to website discussion forum, POCA Tv
    Acupunk and Clinic members: all the above plus: additional forum discussion areas with tens of thousands of posts on thousands of topics, several wikis, peer mentoring, a micro-loan program.
    Organizational members: same benefits as Patient members plus ability to market products, services and POCA member discounts for free in our e-Circular.

    Member benefits/services have grown exponentially in our first 3 years- starting with tangible benefits which include: micro-loans, a resource rich website with open-source clinic and business materials that now includes a free video channel, free and low-cost CEUs for practitioners, as well as the option of an affordable community acupuncture school that will connect graduates directly with existing community acupuncture jobs and time-tested know-how to start and run community acupuncture clinics.

    POCA was incorporated in 2011 as the successor organization to the Community Acupuncture Network (CAN). CAN was a nonprofit business league for acupuncturists who were using a high volume, low cost, group treatment model designed to make acupuncture accessible to people of ordinary incomes; unfortunately it did not have a formal role for community acupuncture consumers. Our history is fairly short but this year has provided several milestones: our annual survey confirmed that clinics using our model delivered 900,000+ affordable treatments in 2013, we counted 1000+ patient members, and we are opening our own acupuncture school in September.


    Most people do not have insurance that covers acupuncture — especially enough acupuncture to adequately treat chronic conditions. POCA’s clinics innovate the delivery of acupuncture in that patients are part of the delivery systems clinically and can contribute social (volunteering, WOM marketing) and financial (membership dues, donations to POCA Tech) capital towards supporting clinics and POCA Coop. This actual ability to contribute to the systems that deliver the care are linked to another sense of wellness for the individual, for the community the individual belongs to, and the clinic community itself. You could say that POCA is a non-capitalist franchise owned by patients who need acupuncture and acupuncturists who need jobs.

  2. Oh I just LOVE our answers to these questions! So much love and pride to everyone for all the hard work done :).