LRI Partners with American College of Rheumatology on Novel Pilot to Reduce Healthcare Disparities in Lupus

The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) will lead an innovative pilot program to enable front-line healthcare providers to better recognize, diagnose and treat lupus when faced with its vague symptoms and confounding complications.

The LRI’s project is one of five funded by a grant awarded to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) by the Office of Minority Health. Each will test strategies to broadly implement the Lupus Initiative, a comprehensive and much-needed healthcare provider education program to alleviate healthcare disparities in lupus nationwide.

Addressing the Problem
Lupus is often overlooked or mistaken for other diseases. But misdiagnosis and delayed treatment is an even greater issue in disadvantaged, underserved communities marked by racial disparities in healthcare. Recognizing these disparities, the LRI first conceived of the Lupus Initiative with the Office of Minority Health in collaboration with the Office on Women’s Health and Office of the Surgeon General.

Developed by the ACR and a consortium of lupus experts nationwide, the Lupus Initiative is designed to educate healthcare professionals and medical students to recognize, diagnose and appropriately treat patients with lupus, regardless of who they are or where they live.

Dynamic, Interactive Learning among Lupus Specialists and Healthcare Providers
With the new grant, the LRI will work with members of our National Patient Coalition as well as the ACR and top lupus specialists to develop and launch a pioneering peer-to-peer education model. The novel program will train rheumatology fellows and junior faculty to take the Lupus Initiative curriculum out into the community to instruct the front line healthcare providers who are most likely to see undiagnosed lupus and can make the greatest difference in early detection. Our goal is to equip a minimum of 600 providers across four diverse regions of the country with the knowledge and skills to spot lupus and initiate proper treatment.

“The LRI project is innovative because it sets out to provide lupus education to ER physicians and to primary care providers in major urban centers,” said consultant Amanda M. Sammut, MD, Chief of Rheumatology, Harlem Hospital Center. “Instruction will be given by rheumatology fellows and attendings who will have the opportunity to meet and to teach other healthcare providers. The model for this program is unique and may be applicable to educational projects in other medical fields.”

“Training healthcare professionals to diagnose lupus early will help patients receive appropriate treatment sooner, lowering the risk of serious complications,” notes LRI CEO Margaret Dowd.  “We hope to expand this pilot program to be able to alleviate healthcare disparities nationwide.”

Read Press Release from the American College of Rheumatology