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ACR Website to Support Primary Care Practitioners

  • ACR

The American College of Rheumatology recently launched Rheumatology for Primary Care, a new resource for primary care physicians (PCP) and advanced practice providers (APP) offering them expanded support and guidance to identify rheumatic diseases in their patients. As the healthcare professionals who often are the first to encounter patients experiencing symptoms consistent with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus, the ACR hopes to supplement the decreasing rheumatology workforce with the support of PCPs and APPs.

Rheumatology for Primary Care is the latest initiative from the College that provides primary care professionals with tools for patient medical workups, early treatments, medications, referrals to a rheumatology specialist, and more. It is a quick reference tool for PCPs to use when caring for patients before or between their visits to a rheumatologist. The resource includes information about:

  • Symptoms of rheumatic conditions such as fever, rashes, or joint pain and associated medical workups for each
  • The various disease types with images and descriptions
  • Case studies
  • Labs to consider and when to order them
  • Common rheumatology medications and treatment considerations

“By creating this resource for our primary care colleagues, we can help reinforce rheumatology skills amid a pending workforce shortage and most importantly, meet patients' needs,” said Beth Jonas, MD, member of the ACR Workforce Solutions Committee and past chair of the ACR’s Committee on Training. "We want rheumatologists to have the support they need at a time when physician availability and patient access can be challenging."

It is expected that 67M American adults and more than 300K children will have a doctor-diagnosed rheumatic condition over the next several years.

“Many patients with rheumatic symptoms spend months, even years, waiting for an appropriate diagnosis for treatment. The more knowledgeable a primary care physician or APP is regarding appropriate referrals for rheumatic diseases, the faster patients can receive proper diagnosis and better care. Creating this tool was a prudent decision by the ACR and is a sensible next step in working collaboratively with our primary care colleagues,” Jonas concluded.

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