Elizabeth Ferucci, MD, MPH, Rheumatologist, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
The practice of rheumatology involves the diagnosis and management of many forms of arthritis and autoimmune disease. A key part of clinic visits is the physical exam, especially of the musculoskeletal system. This creates unique challenges with respect to the use of telemedicine. Despite these challenges, the use of TeleRheumatology has been expanding. We published a systematic review of TeleRheumatology in 2017. The results will be presented as background for this presentation, including the most common conditions, phases of care, and formats for TeleRheumatology. The remainder of the presentation will focus on the use of TeleRheumatology in the Alaska Tribal Health System. The presentation will explain how some aspects of TeleRheumatology in Alaska differ from other locations because of the rural and remote population. We will provide information on the utility of telemedicine in rheumatoid arthritis, including patient preferences and effect on disease activity. We will provide information on the most commonly described benefits of telemedicine in this setting and discuss the commonly identified barriers and ways to overcome them. Finally ,we will describe our recently funded study designed to evaluate disease outcomes and costs associated with the use of telemedicine for chronic disease specialty care.