The number of Americans living with arthritis continues to grow beyond the field of rheumatology’s capacity to provide needed care. Physician shortages foreshadow a looming crisis of declining access to care and deteriorating patient outcomes. One possible solution is to increase the supply of advanced practice providers (APPs) specializing in caring for patients with arthritis. APPs include nurse practitioners and physician assistants who specialize in rheumatology.
AIR is working with the Arthritis Foundation to explore whether patients will accept APPs as an option to fill the growing shortage of rheumatologists. Through the Arthritis Foundation’s action plan—called Patients First: Expanding the Circle of Care (Patients First)—AIR will conduct an online survey to identify patient perspectives on the role of APPs in the field of rheumatology. The research will focus on adults with inflammatory arthritis and parents of children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The plan calls for comparisons to be made between patients receiving care primarily from an APP who specializes in rheumatology and patients receiving care primarily from a rheumatologist. The survey will assess patients’ experience of care, satisfaction, and timeliness and accessibility of care.