Bone health in general, and osteoporosis in particular, is among the most common conditions seen in rheumatology practices. The ACR recently joined the National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA) to reach out to other stakeholders.
“In 2004, the Surgeon General of the United States published a report on osteoporosis that discussed in depth the gaps in knowledge exhibited by both healthcare providers and patients,” says David Lee, MPA, executive director of NBHA in Arlington, Va. “It also talked about the need to establish a widespread coalition to bring all of the interested parties together. The NBHA was launched in late 2010 as a public–private partnership geared toward addressing these concerns.”
The NBHA comprises 50 nonprofit and corporate members. These include other medical specialty organizations, major pharmaceutical companies with an interest in bone disease, and representatives of various patient advocacy groups. There are also liaisons from five governmental agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Rheumatologists in the Bone Health World
Rheumatologists are front and center in the bone health world,” says Kenneth G. Saag, MD, Jane Knight Lowe Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the first rheumatologist to serve as president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and as co-chair of the Alliance’s steering committee. “The vast majority of this specialty has some engagement in osteoporosis and other bone diseases. The NBHA is a forum for groups to get together and talk about advocacy, education and programming.”
One of the major problems the Alliance is trying to address is that there is really no single specialty where bone health is all they do. This spreading out of responsibility can often mean a lack of continuity in research, education and treatment.
“Endocrinology, orthopedics, geriatrics and even family medicine physicians all have a hand in treatment of this disease,” notes Mr. Lee.
Focus on 3 Major Areas
The NBHA is currently focusing on three major topics of interest to the field. The national awareness campaign, 2Million2Many, highlights the 2 million bone breaks that occur in the U.S. every year due to osteoporosis. Created in 2012, the campaign raises public awareness of the connection between bone breaks and osteoporosis. It is based on a call to action for consumers and healthcare professionals alike: “If it’s 50+fracture, request a test.”