The Office of Minority Health has awarded the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) The Lupus Initiative (TLI) a one-year $335,000 grant to continue to expand its national education program by developing an expert-informed model specifically focused on improving health outcomes in lupus patients.
“This model is the first of its kind to establish a method to penetrate the most difficult to reach, but most affected populations — communities in rural and micropolitan areas of the U.S. where there is a shortage of rheumatologists,” Dr. Sam Lim, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Emory University, said in a press release.
“The TLI evidence-based model can be replicated by other organizations, communities, and agencies to deliver provider education and access to care for patients in need,” he said.
This is the seventh year the ACR has been given this grant. The 2016 award will support ACR’s efforts to provide much-needed education to health providers as well as specialty care to lupus patients who live in rural areas and lack proper services to treat the chronic autoimmune disease.
The ACR hopes to continue to expand the national program until it becomes one of the largest national formal collaborations of lupus stakeholders. The partners collaborating in the current grant include the Emory University School of Medicine; the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center; the Cascades East Area Health Education Center; the Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition; and the St. Charles Rheumatology Clinic.
In 2015, the ACR used the grant to develop an expert-informed program model that would effectively address barriers to diagnosis, treatment, and disease management for minorities touched by the disease.
That program was successful in opening access to lupus educational curriculum tools and resources that are currently shared only among health professionals. It was made possible through the collaboration between the ACR and a series of agencies and organizations in Southwest Georgia and the Pacific Northwest.
“The model allows for primary care providers to treat a person with lupus on their own, or co-manage with a geographically-distant rheumatologist, until an appropriate referral can be made. Additionally, we focus on increasing the awareness of the people in these “silent spaces” about lupus’ signs and symptoms,” said TLI Project Director Sheryl McCalla, JD, also ACR senior director of collaborative initiatives.