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Schmajuk G.,Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco | Schmajuk G.,University of California at San Francisco | Tonner C.,University of California at San Francisco | Yazdany J.,University of California at San Francisco
Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism | Year: 2016

Objective: Despite looming rheumatologist shortages and a growing number of patients with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, nationwide estimates of access to rheumatology care have never been reported. We aimed to measure travel times as a proxy to access to care and to determine the individual and area-level factors associated with long travel times to rheumatologists in the U.S. Methods: We used Medicare Part B claims for the 2009 Medicare Chronic Condition Warehouse 5% rheumatoid arthritis/osteoarthritis cohort. Using Google Maps we estimated driving time from the center of a beneficiary's home ZIP code to the center of their rheumatologist's office ZIP code. We examined predictors of travel time ≥90 min in a series of generalized linear mixed models adjusting for rheumatologist supply, rurality, and individual patient characteristics including age, race, gender, and income. Results: We included 41,693 Medicare beneficiaries with 1 or more visits to a rheumatologist in 2009. The median estimated beneficiary travel time to a rheumatologist was 22 min [interquartile range (IQR): 12-40 min]. Overall, 7% of beneficiaries traveled 90 min or longer to visit a rheumatologist. Even after adjusting for covariates, independent predictors of long travel times included living in areas with no or low supply of rheumatologists and living in the Mountain region of the U.S. Conclusions: A small but significant proportion of patients in the U.S. traveled very long distances to visit a rheumatologist, and most of these individuals resided in areas with no or low supplies of rheumatologists. These data suggest that addressing shortages in rheumatology care for patients in low-supply areas is a key target for improving access to rheumatologists. © 2015.

PubMed | Yale University, University of California at San Francisco and Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

Co-prescription of folic acid in patients receiving low dose oral methotrexate is recommended because it reduces adverse events and prolongs the use of methotrexate (MTX). However, little is known about how often new users of methotrexate are co-prescribed folic acid, and what factors are associated with its use. We aimed to determine the prevalence, predictors of, and persistence of folic acid use in a population-based cohort of MTX users with rheumatic diseases.Using a national, administrative database of patients seen through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) that included pharmacy and laboratory data, we performed an observational cohort study of veterans over 65 years old who were new users of MTX. We used log-binomial regression to identify independent predictors of folic acid use and Kaplan Meyer survival analysis to examine persistence of folic acid over time.We studied 2467 incident users of MTX. 27% of patients were not prescribed folic acid through the VHA pharmacy within 30 days of MTX initiation. Patients who did not see a rheumatologist were 23% less likely to receive folic acid compared to patients who did have a rheumatologist visit during the baseline period (RR (95% CI) 0.77 (0.72, 0.82). These results remained unchanged even after adjusting for demographic, clinical, and other factors (adjusted RR (95% CI) 0.78 (0.74, 0.85)). After 20 months, only 50% of patients continued to receive folic acid.In a nationwide VHA cohort of new users of oral MTX, many patients did not receive folic acid or discontinued it over time. Rheumatologists were more likely to prescribe folic acid than other providers. These data highlight the need to improve patient safety for users of methotrexate by standardizing workflows for folic acid supplementation.

Bays A.,University of Washington | Wahl E.,Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco | Daikh D.I.,Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco | Yazdany J.,1001 Potrero Ave | Schmajuk G.,Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco
BMC Health Services Research | Year: 2016

Background: Treat-to-target is the recommended strategy for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and involves regular assessment of disease activity using validated measures and subsequent adjustment of medical therapy if patients are not in remission or low disease activity. Recommendations published in 2012 detailed the preferred disease activity measures but there have been few publications on implementation of disease activity measures in a real-world clinic setting. Methods: Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) methodology was used over two cycles with a goal of increasing provider measurement of disease activity during all RA patient visits. In PDSA cycle 1, we implemented a paper-based form to help providers assess disease activity in RA patients. PDSA cycle 2 included the creation of separate patient and physician forms for collection of information, identification of patients prior to their clinic visit and incorporation of medical assistants into the workflow. Results: The first PDSA cycle improved the number of RA patients with documented disease activity measures from 24 % over a 4-week period, to an average of 44 % over an 8-week period. The second PDSA cycle showed a sustained and dramatic improvement, with 85 % of patients having a disease activity measure recorded over a 27-week period. Conclusions: Implementation of disease activity measurement in a typical academic rheumatology clinic can be achieved by standardizing workflow using a simple paper form. © 2016 The Author(s).

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