At the American College of Rheumatology Conference in Boston, Eric Newman, MD, director of rheumatology at Geisinger Health presented a new model for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Eric Newman, MD, Director of Rheumatology, Geisinger

Dr. Eric Newman, MD, Director of Rheumatology, Geisinger

Geisinger Health formulated and tested the new model which they suggest is relevant for any rheumatic disease. The new model, called AIM FARTHER, focuses primarily on closing gaps in communication between members of the care team, including the patients. They tested the model on 2300 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Not only was the model able to improve outcomes for patients over 22 months, but it was also able to save an estimated $1 million over the course of each year.

AIM FARTHER stands for: Attribution, Integration, Measurement, Finances, and Reporting of therapies. The team leveraged technology in order to integrate information regarding care of a patients from several sources all at once. In the waiting room of every visit, a patients fills out a questionnaire on a touchscreen. This information was instantly sent to a registry. The registry also captured data from the patient’s nurse, rheumatologist and primary care physician.

The entire care team met and discussed care of the patient on a monthly basis. During this meeting, the team reviewed a scorecard filled out by the patient judging whether or not the goals of his or her care had been met. If they were not met, the team discussed solutions. They also collected data regarding particular goals that groups of patients had said were not met, and compared the care of several patients to improve individualized care.

The team attributes cost savings to a drug treatment strategy that emphasized lowering doses for just under 10% of patients, and avoiding the addition of biologics and other drugs if a patient was not in need.

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