As a practicing rheumatologist, I have experienced the increasing payer and government involvement shaping our evolving healthcare system. New payment models, changes in health insurance coverage, the federal mandate for the adoption of electronic health records and the implementation of ICD-10 are recent changes that have rocked our world. Our patients are also paying the price. Higher insurance premiums and co-pays, limitations in provider choice, and specialty-tier pricing systems requiring them to pay a percentage of the cost of expensive medications, are creating financial barriers for access to these potentially effective therapies.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2015
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Simultaneously, we are excited about the scientific progress in our specialty and the therapeutic breakthroughs for our patients. Advances in information technology are opening up avenues for integrating healthcare systems, improving the quality of care and engaging patients in their health.
However, the outlook is not all rosy in clinical practice. Rheumatologists are facing excessive administrative burdens from expanding payer and government regulations along with the depersonalization of the doctor-patient interaction brought about by the implementation of EHRs. No less consequential are the added costs practitioners face in adapting to these changes. How can providers ever expect to land on their feet?
The ACR Leads the Way …
Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” The ACR has not slowed down, and in fact, has picked up the pace.
As president of the American College of Rheumatology, I have witnessed how the ACR, with its Board of Directors, committee chairs and hundreds of dedicated volunteers, is leading rheumatology through this period of transformation. When I talk about the ACR, it’s important to acknowledge the contribution of the members of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a vital division of the ACR. Working together as a team is the only way the ACR will achieve its goals. As I reflect about my experience as president, let me tell you what is happening at the ACR and how it is impacting rheumatology.
… In Advocacy
The steady stream of government policies affecting our healthcare system has brought advocacy into the limelight as a key ACR strategy for ensuring that rheumatology has a voice in the political process. More than ever, rheumatologists must have a seat(s) at the table to question, participate in and propose policy, keeping in mind the best interests of rheumatology and our patients.