Purpose of review
is imperative to achieve appropriate outcomes in rheumatologic diseases. But there seems to be a significant gap and disparity in the access
care between urban and rural areas. This review was undertaken to analyze this issue.
A significant delay in diagnosis of rheumatic disorder has been correlated to the travel distance to rheumatologist. It is also clear that currently, a significant rheumatology
workforce shortage exists and is projected to worsen significantly, thereby making this gap and disparity much bigger.
The scope of this gap and disparity in rheumatology
care for rural patients remains incompletely defined and quantified. It is felt to be a significant issue and it is important to invest resources to obtain information about its scope. In addition, a number of solutions already exist which can be implemented using current network and infrastructure. These include relatively low-cost interventions such as patient navigator, remote rheumatology
experts and if possible tele-rheumatology
. These interventions can assist temporarily but a major improvement will require policy change at federal and state government level as well as involvement, buy-in, and incentivization of the providers and health networks providing rheumatology