Much work remains to be done, but a multidisciplinary panel of health care providers, researchers, and patients has made significant progress toward establishing a model of osteoarthritis (OA) care that acknowledges the importance of early diagnosis and recognizes the powerful impact that OA can have on successful treatment of comorbidities. The group's efforts have been released in a report (.pdf) published by the US Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI).
The Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative (COAMI) report lays out the challenge in no uncertain terms. "Instead of routine screening that provides early alerts … about the possible presence of osteoarthritis (OA), followed by a systematic exploration of strategies to reduce pain and preserve or increase function, patients and providers often have their first conversations about joint pain when the joint is damaged enough to require surgical replacement," the report states. Slow detection and uncoordinated treatment not only results in more severe joint damage, but can allow OA to significantly impact how well a patient responds to treatment of concurrent conditions such as respiratory problems and diabetes.
The COAMI report calls for improvements and better coordination in self-management support, delivery system and design, decision support, and clinical information systems, with the aim of creating an OA model of care "that is far closer to the coordinated, proactive ideal than what is currently in place." With such a model, the report states, it may be possible "to overcome the view of patients, the public, and many health care professionals that OA is inevitable and that joint pain and related disability should be tolerated." The panel decided on specific action items that will be addressed by designated groups of participants.
APTA is a founding member of USBJI and serves on its board of directors.
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