In the near future, primary care physicians (PCPs) may play an expanded role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient care by comanaging RA and its comorbidities with rheumatologists.
Comanagement is just one of many emerging issues in RA that may soon affect patient care at the PCP level. In previous articles in this Special Report on Rheumatoid Arthritis in Primary Care, we have addressed the following:
• PCPs may provide more care for patients with RA, an increasingly underserved population.
• PCPs may contribute to improved patient outcomes by recognizing the signs and symptoms of RA early.
• Having made the appropriate diagnosis, PCPs may make more timely referrals to rheumatology.
• PCPs may initiate long-term disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy earlier in the disease course.
Here we discuss the major areas of comanagement of RA and its comorbidities and the other future directions that RA management is likely to take.
PCPs and rheumatologists working together
The PCP can work with a rheumatologist in comanaging the patient once a diagnosis of RA has been made and DMARD therapy has begun. A critical aspect of comanagement is keeping open lines of communication between the PCP and the consulting rheumatologist.
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