A big part of our Collaborating With Patients for Better Health scientific initiative has been creating the Rheumatology Learning Health System (RLHS) in collaboration with major partners. The goal of RLHS is to improve quality of care by enhancing communication between patients and their doctors through electronic dashboards.
These dashboards support meaningful conversations and shared decisions about care and treatment plans. They include patient-reported outcomes (PROs), enabling patients to list questions and concerns in advance of a clinical visit. Patients and doctors can turn on/off different data elements to focus on the most meaningful data.
During the pilot phase of this project, the group created and tested paper-based versions of the dashboard at three pediatric sites. In the next phase, electronic versions of the dashboards are being created, and adult sites are being added. Jennifer is helping us make this project successful.
Jennifer is a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Adult Pilot Site Team. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 10 years ago. While being treated with methotrexate, she started experiencing flares. Her doctor prescribed a short course of prednisone.
Reviewing the RLHS dashboard (like the one below) with her doctor helped them both see the visual of her joint count increasing in her RAPID3 scores. This led to her trying a new medication. Seeing Jennifer’s data at a point-in-time, and then over time, helped her and her doctor see how her RA disease activity needed a different treatment approach.
Jennifer says, “In the past, when thinking about a change in therapy, I’ve had some hesitation. It involves weighing how well I’m currently doing against things like possible side effects. What impact will the new medication have? Will I feel better? And equally important, what’s the added cost of a new medication?”
The dashboard helps focus conversations between patients and doctors. Asking patients like Jennifer the “Why” behind the reluctance or hesitation about changing medications invites a conversation about patient preferences and whatever extra help they may need.
“We’re trying to improve patient care by helping patients and doctors prepare for office visits, working together as a team, and improving communication between visits,” explains Arthritis
Foundation Senior Vice President Guy Eakin, PhD. “This is a difficult experiment, and exactly the type of challenge we’re proud to be working with patients and professionals to accomplish. We are thankful for the generosity of our donors for making this project possible.”
The Arthritis Foundation is working with the following partner organizations: Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA); the Pediatric Rheumatology Care and Outcomes Improvement Network (PR-COIN); Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network – Canadian/Dutch Collaboration (UCAN, CAN-DU); and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice facilitates the group by providing strategic oversight and support for the RLHS.