From Max Hamburger, MD President, United Rheumatology

From Max Hamburger, MD
President, United Rheumatology

United Rheumatology continues to deliver on its mission to support independent rheumatologists in meeting the needs of their patients. Our membership continues to grow, along with our work to align our clinical insights into detailed clinical practice guidelines. In addition, I’m pleased to announce newly added benefits of membership. We saw substantial membership growth for United Rheumatology (UR) in the third quarter of 2016, and by now, active membership has surpassed 290 physician members!! That is over 40% growth in the last four months. UR now has membership in 28 states and more than 105 practices.

Membership saw a boost in attendance following UR’s largest meeting to date, with nearly two hundred attendees at our meeting in Miami, October 28-9. Over 85 rheumatologists came to Miami to learn about UR as prospective members, and many joined on site. The number of prospective members exceeded our expectations, and our staff is working double time to bring in all the new members. Those present heard important policy updates from Steve Miller MD, Chief Medical Officer of ExpressScripts, Gayle Johnston, President of Curascript SD, and Jon Glaudemans, of Manatt Health. Excellent clinical updates on the management of RA were presented by Josef Smolen and Daniel Aletaha, who brought their expertise in guidelines development all the way from Vienna! The clinical presentations were brought to a conclusion by Lenny Calabrese DO, who presented on current concepts in spondyloarthropathies.

Our Medical Policy Committee has completed and copyrighted our guidelines in RA, PsA, AS, osteoporosis, and OA of the knee, which can now be found under the “United University” tab on our website. Guidelines for SLE, MSUS, and gout are nearly complete, and work has started in developing the UR position on biosimilars. We have commenced local payer engagements in several geographic areas. We have begun analysis of a massive database that includes over 160,000 patients, which will help us to optimize and simplify data collection. Aggregated, de-identified data is essential to our ability to leverage meaningful data for better care for our patients and aligned incentives with payers.

Our Practice Administrators Committee continues to develop a remarkable library of articles and toolkits on best practices, and on-site practice assessments are more and more in demand. At your request, our expert administrators will come to your office in order to work with your administrator and staff to assess and compare workflow, structure, and process to UR Rheumatology best practices.

Lastly, UR finalized an agreement with Integro, a national insurance brokerage, and will be contacting each practice to explore interest in savings on malpractice coverage and coverage for other types of insurance needed by medical practices.

As most of you have experienced, the UR GPO continues to expand its ability to provide our members with savings and substantial rebates on drug and non-drug purchases.

Our commitment from the start was to build the best Management Services Organization for independent practice rheumatologists. We are not resting on successes, and are seeking further opportunities to provide benefits to our members. Our commitment is to help the independent practice rheumatologist address those challenges beyond the bandwidth of any single office including developing alternate payment models and engaging with payers on both the national and local level. As we continue to develop innovative approaches to the changing payer landscape, our consultants at Manatt have the experience to work with us and provide their expertise and guidance.

On behalf of our growing staff and membership, we thank you for your confidence in us. We celebrate every new member, and we particularly enjoy the day that rebate checks are distributed each quarter. What we have accomplished is a testimony to a very sound idea- that rheumatologists with a commitment to providing the best care can find the ways to work together, within legal boundaries, and do so with impressive success.

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Whether you have an established practice, you’re fresh out of your fellowship, or you’re a hospital-based rheumatologist considering private practice, United Rheumatology offers the resources and services you need to advance your career and your clinic.

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