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ACR Position Paper: Cost Impact of Rheumatologic Care

Aug 31, 2023 6:35 pm

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has published evidence that rheumatologic care can save more than $2700 per patient per year.

The ACR has published a white paper and position statement, with the intent of showing that rheumatologists provide preventive care/measures and financial savings to patients, healthcare systems and the economy.

Some examples of positive outcomes associated with rheumatology care, include:

  • A decline in hip and knee replacements for patients with rheumatoid arthritis after the introduction of biologics, while the total number of hip and knee replacements for patients with osteoarthritis increased
  • Lower 30-day readmission rates among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus with access to a rheumatology clinic post discharge

Take Home Points - the medical literature has previously shown that rheumatology care:

  • Decreases rheumatoid arthritis related long term disability and frequency of total hip and knee replacements
  • Reduces 30-day re-admission rates in patients with SLE upon discharge from the hospital
  • Reduces flare rate of patients with gout
  • A higher supply of rheumatologists led to a reduction in emergency room (ER) costs and hospitalization costs per patient
  • A lower supply of rheumatologists in an area leads to higher spending per patient per year o An average of direct billings per rheumatologist of $3.5 million per year

Overall, the ACR Position paper asserts:

  1.  Rheumatologists significantly improve the quality of life and decrease healthcare costs for rheumatic disease patients.
  2. A sufficient supply of rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals is crucial to optimize patient outcomes and to fully realize the economic benefits of rheumatologic care within healthcare systems.
  3. Rheumatologists have a significant economic impact, contributing to job creation, wages, benefits, and tax revenue at the local and national levels.
  4. Care of rheumatic disease by a rheumatologist improves patient function, shortens time away from work, and reduces long-term disability, allowing more patients to remain productive workforce members. 



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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject