Amar Majjhoo, MD, had just completed his rheumatology fellowship in 2005 when he attended his first meeting of the Michigan Rheumatism Society.
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“I thought it was exciting that we had a state society, because to me, everything was new,” says the Michigan-based, private practice rheumatologist. “Having a meeting where established doctors were sitting around was pretty cool.”
Little did he know then that less than a decade later, he would take charge of collective efforts to reinvigorate the society. Today, Dr. Majjhoo is president of the now-revived society and sees nothing but continued growth and opportunity.
“I want to keep the momentum going,” he says. “The goal is always to make meetings bigger and better while continuing to provide good content on our website, to provide support for practices at minimal or no cost to members, to encourage membership growth and participation, and to continue expanding our voice with respect to payer relations and legislative issues.”
Rebuilding a Society
When Dr. Majjhoo first joined, meetings of the society took place twice annually, generally over dinner on a weekday evening. But over the years, participation had declined. He recollects a dinner meeting in 2012 with only six physicians in attendance. Michigan has about 100 rheumatologists statewide.
“People lost sight of the importance of having a state society,” Dr. Majjhoo says.
He realized that to bring it back, he and others had to take steps to rebuild a society—first established in 1947—that provided unequivocal value for its members. To do that meant making communication between the society and its members clear and easy, simplifying member participation, and giving state rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals a voice.
“There’s a relatively small number of us, so we have to make up for those small numbers by being a little more active, more vocal,” he says. He attended meetings of the ACR’s Affiliate Society Council, where he learned best practices, and he has also helped overhaul the society’s website and strives to improve it for providers and patients.
The society has been engaged in advocacy efforts, teaming up with the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association as part of a coalition to address step therapy in Michigan, and it has contributed to the success of a biosimilars bill signed by the state’s governor in March. Dr. Majjhoo also recently met with Blue Cross Blue Shield to request it reinstate coverage for hyaluronic acid injections, and says the society has had success with payers in the past around changes to formularies.