“Today, patients expect to be seen in a timely fashion. The days of waiting four to six months to see a rheumatologist are over,” says Dr. Wells, director of the Rheumatology and Immunology Center in Franklin, adjunct assistant professor at Duke University and vice president of the WRA.
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In a speech at the 2020 Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium held in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Wells said, “If you aren’t thinking of telerheumatology, you will not be able to compete with growing patient demands, expectations and clinical monitoring.”²
He noted that nurse practitioners and physician assistants are also being trained to play a larger role in delivering rheumatology care.
Dr. Malone says the WRA began holding advocacy sessions at its annual meetings about five years ago. At the 2020 meeting, in the presence of five Wisconsin state legislators, two patients with rheumatic disease presented stories about how they were unable to receive the medication their doctor prescribed, were denied a service their provider thought was necessary, or were forced to change medications during successful treatment.
“We all hear stories like this from our rheumatology patients, but this session and those in other years give us the chance to educate our legislators about some of the common obstacles we face in providing patients with the best possible treatment,” Dr. Malone says. WRA also keeps its members aware of recently passed and pending legislation.
The WRA offers continuing medical education (CME) credits at its annual meetings, as well as CME-accredited dinners throughout the year, featuring top experts in various topics relevant to clinical rheumatology and basic science.
“At one of these weeknight, catered dinner meetings, we had a speaker discuss the new genetic engineering technique CRISPR and had over 20 rheumatologists in attendance,” Dr. Malone says. “Most physicians are pressed for time, so offering CME opportunities they can work into their schedules while networking with others in their field makes sense and is consistent with our stated mission of providing excellent educational experiences for all of our members as often as possible.”
WRA’s next annual meeting is scheduled for March 19–20, 2021, at The American Club Resort in Kohler. The 2022 meeting will be held March 18–19 at the same location.
Linda Childers is a health writer located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Rural Health Equity, Interprofessional Continuing Education Partnership, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Nov. 19, 2019. Accessed Feb. 24, 2021.
- Troum O, Wells AF. Point-counterpoint: Telemedicine is the future of rheumatology. Presented at Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium; Feb. 12–15, 2020; Maui, Hawaii.