The Voice of Rheumatology (VOR) is a coalition that you likely have not heard of. It was established a few years ago as an informal coalition to help the rheumatology community efficiently and effectively collaborate on issues important to the field. Initial meetings focused heavily on issues with payers. As the group has grown, the focus of the meetings has expanded to include federal, state and regulatory issues. The VOR is now an integral mechanism for the exchange of information among groups in the rheumatology community.
Until this year, the meetings have been organized and led by the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers (NORM) and volunteers Alicia Sullivan and Andrea Zlatkus. This year, meeting organization and leadership started rotating among the members of VOR. Current members of VOR include the Aimed Alliance, Alliance for Women in Rheumatology, American College of Rheumatology, Arthritis Foundation, Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations (CSRO), Lupus & Allied Diseases Association, National Infusion Centers of America, NORM, Rheumatology Nurses Society (RNS) and Spondylitis Association of America. Each group has unique strengths that can be leveraged to improve patient access, reduce practice burden and enhance the rheumatology community as a whole.
A New Approach for Collaboration
As the group continues to evolve and grow, the VOR coalition is entering a new chapter of collaboration. The VOR has functioned as a behind the scenes mechanism for inter-organization information sharing, but it is important for members to know the extent of the collaboration among the rheumatology community. To that end, the VOR will begin sharing important updates and meeting dates from CSRO, NORM, RNS and other groups through the participating organizations’ newsletters and other communications..
The VOR will also begin working on projects of shared interest among group members. Hopefully, this will allow the coalition to capture better data to help move our shared issues forward. For example, surveys distributed across all organizations will likely provide stronger and more influential datasets to use in advocacy efforts with legislators, employers and payers. Such coordination will prevent duplicating efforts and ensure that all groups can access the data from shared projects to use for their own purposes.
One additional area of collaboration will be advocacy. Over the few years of VOR meetings, members have noted that different rheumatology groups go to Capitol Hill every month or two and are often talking about some of the same issues. To make these meetings more impactful, VOR members are planning to begin sharing questions and requests for additional information from Congressional offices during Hill meetings with other groups in the coalition. This will allow the next group going to the Hill to tailor its messaging to a particular office to answer questions and provide additional information. This should make advocacy efforts more impactful and will help to keep conversations on our issues moving forward.