In early March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report showing that the number of Americans living with arthritis is at an all-time high. According to the report, 54 million Americans now live with arthritis, and approximately 79 million will have arthritis by 2040.
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This stark picture comes at a time when the ACR’s 2015 Rheumatology Workforce Study Report has projected a shortage of 3,800 rheumatologists in the U.S. by the same year. Given the projected rise in the number of adults with arthritis and the anticipated fall in the supply of rheumatologists, it is more important than ever to raise awareness about the benefits of early intervention, timely referral and specialized care by a rheumatologist.
The ACR’s Board of Directors and advocacy team will be in Washington, D.C., this month to let legislators know how their decisions affect your practices and patients. Although you likely can’t join us in D.C., you can take action to help us spread our awareness and advocacy messages throughout the month:
- Be heard in Washington, D.C. Our Legislative Action Center contains templates you can use to quickly email your legislator to tell them about the importance of supporting policies that will help provide better access to care for your patients, remove administrative obstacles that cause you to spend more time with paperwork and less time seeing patients, and regenerate the rheumatology workforce. Take five minutes to send an email today. It makes a big difference.
- Get your patients involved, too. Simple Tasks has an advocacy platform that is customized for patients, so they can share their stories. Lawmakers want to hear the unique challenges that patients face. Help your patients make their voice heard by giving them information about this tool.
- Share our patient education tools. We’ve updated our patient education library, and new treatment pages are available for use. These are great resources for educating patients, caregivers and your community. Additional fact sheets and one-page PDF versions of our most visited pages are coming soon.
- Tell your patients about #RheumChat. #RheumChat brings patients, organizations and health professionals together once a month to discuss issues affecting patients with rheumatic disease. #RheumChat recaps are a great way to see what patients are talking about and for patients to access resources and find support. Thousands have participated. Help us spread the word.
- Get ready for RDAM 2017! Simple Tasks launched the first Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM) in September 2016, and it was a huge success. Our PSA with acclaimed actress Jennie Garth received more than 42 million impressions and $2.1 million in free advertising to spread the word about rheumatic disease. This year’s celebrity partner is former NFL quarterback and Fox NFL Sunday co-host Terry Bradshaw. Here’s a recap of all the resources that were available last year. We’ll be updating this page in coming months, so check back for more information.
With your help, we can continue to raise awareness about the impact of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases—one patient and community at a time.