By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist
I recently wrote a post to highlight that remission should be the goal in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
This is actually a common goal with most inflammatory arthritis. Switch off the inflammation as soon as possible to prevent/reduce joint damage.
One possible barrier is access to rheumatologists, and we at BJC Health are trying to reduce this "access block".
3 weeks ago, we mailed out a letter to over 1000 GPs around our Parramatta rooms. I quote you the body of that letter:
"The last decade has seen tremendous improvements in outcomes for patients suffering with inflammatory arthritis, and in particular, in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis & Ankylosing Spondylitis.
This is due to the availability of biologic agents such as the TNF-inhibitors (eg Humira or Enbrel). In addition, we now know how to use the older DMARDs such as Methotrexate in a much more effective manner.
It is now possible to achieve remission rates up to 70% in Rheumatoid Arthritis!
A window-of-opportunity exists. This means that patients achieve much better results with early diagnosis and early, aggressive treatment once the diagnosis is made.
We need to see your patients with inflammatory arthritis as soon as possible.
Please contact us by phone or email so that we can make sure that your patients get an appointment quickly.
Our rheumatologists collaborate and we will ensure that these patients are seen within a week."
Over 1000 GPs, many who already know & refer patients to our clinic. In that letter, we included the mobile numbers & emails of our 3 rheumatologists based at Parramatta. We encouraged contact.
To date, we've received ZERO requests for urgent review.
Maybe we've misjudged how many patients with active joint inflammation are out there. Maybe our letters weren't delivered or read or mentally processed. Maybe, the flood of patient referrals is around the corner.
I can't help feeling a little disappointed at this stage. Increasing disease awareness, particularly when there has been major advance, can be difficult.
Do any of you have experience with campaigns that have worked?Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. Arthritis requires an integrated approach. We call this, Connected Care. Contact us.