“It can also be difficult to gauge joint inflammation using telemedicine,” Dr. Cherascu says. “We’ve looked at providing infusion services in rural areas, but it’s critical to have a rheumatology provider on site in the event a patient experiences a severe reaction.”
Collaboration Leads to Better Outcomes
RAI’s annual meetings offer Iowa rheumatologists the ability to come together and discuss best practice options, as well as how to operate their practices more efficiently.
The organization’s 9th annual meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24–25 at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. Dr. Cherascu says the event will give rheumatology professionals the opportunity to meet in person and discuss policy and the complexities of running a practice, and to enjoy networking with their colleagues.
“Our scientific sessions are always very well-attended. We also offer legislative updates and the chance for our members to hold roundtable discussions with representatives from the Arthritis Foundation, as well as lobbyists representing the rheumatology field,” Dr. Cherascu says.
Although the RAI is still finalizing its list of speakers for this year’s conference, Dr. Cherascu says the organizers hope to secure a speaker to discuss rheumatology concerns during pregnancy.
Advocacy will also be an important theme at the annual meeting.
“For the past eight years, RAI has hosted excellent educational meetings, allowing our members to collaborate in terms of advocacy at the state level for both their patients and practices,” Dr. Brooks says.
Among the RAI’s advocacy efforts, the organization has succeeded in getting step therapy and prior authorization bills passed in the Iowa legislature. It is presently working on a bill for nonmedical switching and is considering including a bill to regulate copay accumulators and similar insurance plans that negate the effect of copay assistance offered to patients requiring expensive rheumatologic medications. Others under development include bills to regulate the practice of white bagging and brown bagging requirements for infusion therapy patients.
“I’ve been involved in advocacy both by going to Des Moines for face-to-face communication with legislators and inviting state senators to come to our meetings to discuss issues pertaining to rheumatologists,” Dr. Brooks says. “In addition, I’ve been involved with the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations (CSRO) at a national level as a member of [its] board and have been involved with advocacy in Washington, D.C., on a yearly basis through that organization.”
Dr. Brooks notes that, although technology doesn’t replace face-to-face communication, it has made it easier for rheumatologists in Iowa to accomplish legislative goals and interact with other groups that can help make patient care more easily and efficiently accomplished.