Colin Edgerton, MD, FACP, RhMSUS, learned many things during his tenure as a rheumatologist and U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, including how to lead large, facility-based medical operations. Combining this knowledge with his current role as a partner in Articularis Healthcare, the largest single-specialty rheumatology private practice in the U.S., Dr. Edgerton has a unique perspective on the challenges facing rheumatologists in both facility and community environments.
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As incoming chair of the ACR’s Committee on Rheumatologic Care (CORC), Dr. Edgerton brings this experience to bear, tackling the technical and economic issues affecting rheumatologic practice.
Meeting Big Changes with Expertise
CORC is charged with addressing the economic, technical and ethical issues of rheumatologic practice. Dr. Edgerton saw similar challenges while working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and while serving as chief of the Rheumatology Service at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. Leadership in these facilities required political, budgetary and human resource expertise, which translates well into many of the issues and concerns CORC must address. In his current role as a private practice partner, Dr. Edgerton has gained additional expertise in managing contracts and mergers, including the founding of Articularis Healthcare.
“The biggest change we are navigating as rheumatologists is the legislation of value-based medicine that is codified in the MACRA law,” Dr. Edgerton says. “When you see the government as a payer moving toward value-based medicine and starting to implement some of the rules that they want followed in measuring quality and cost, that is really the biggest frontier we face—how do we do this in a way that preserves the highest quality patient care, physician satisfaction and maintains the ethical standards of our profession?”
He adds that the overall rubric of value-based care sends its tendrils into every area of ACR activities, including workforce challenges and education. He notes that commercial payers are as involved in value-based care as the government sector.
3 Primary Challenges
As the ACR works with CORC to address the issues that impact the practice of rheumatology, Dr. Edgerton will focus on three primary challenges in the year ahead:
- Preserving community practice as a high-quality, low-cost venue of care, even as many practices struggle with the regulations and administrative burdens of value-based care;
- Maintaining the critical role of rheumatology health professionals as expert leaders in a challenging environment where insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and other administrative entities are impinging on patient care; and
- Seeking solutions for patient access to rheumatology care, addressing workforce shortages in rheumatology as providers prepare to retire in the setting of a restricted training pipeline.
“The ACR has invested substantial effort over the last decade in understanding and improving outreach to community rheumatologists. CORC, as the lynchpin ACR committee for practicing rheumatologists, has done an excellent job of representing rheumatologists in the trenches,” says Dr. Edergton.