The United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) plays a key role in American healthcare to reduce the burden of musculoskeletal disease by promoting innovative programs of prevention and treatment. Importantly, the USBJI is committed to programs that are interdisciplinary, coordinated and patient-centric. To meet this goal, the USBJI is an organization of organizations and involves a wide range of professional societies as well as voluntary health groups that represent the interests of patients. At present, more than 40 different organizations are members of the USBJI.While more effective care is the goal of many organizations and healthcare systems at present, it can be difficult to achieve because of many factors that contribute to fragmentation and discontinuity. Among the key factors is the lack of effective communication. Computers and other electronic means have the potential to dramatically speed and amplify communication but often they fall short. Emails can be a menace, cluttered with far too many communications of little or no interest. Pushing the delete button can seem like a full-time activity.
In the realm of clinical care, electronic medical records (EMR) make access to data and records easier but electronics has its drawbacks. Notes are longer and denser even though the actual information content remains about the same as old-fashioned hand-written entries. For a provider, sifting through the notes to get to the bottom-line can be a struggle. Certainly, creating such records is very time-consuming and even the most nimble systems have hang-ups.
The computer also changes the essential dynamic of patient care. To meet the demands of an EMR most efficiently, providers usually type during patient encounters, following prompts the systems present. Care may be patient-centric but eye-to-eye contact can be limited as the patient gives answers to the back of a typist who clicks away filling in data on templates that are the core of many systems. This situation is the price for more complete and accessible information storage.
For an organization like the USBJI, communication via electronics is nevertheless essential to build dialogue among constituent organizations and forge programs that can advance musculoskeletal care via innovative team approaches. In 2015 President-Elect Dr. David Pisetsky is spearheading an effort to improve the regular USBJI newsletter, to be renamed The BJI, to help build such interaction. In the future, he hopes all member organizations of the USBJI can take advantage of this forum and contribute articles about its activities.
For these reports, Dr. Pisetsky hopes to have answers to a few important questions. The first question “Who are you?” What does your organization do and who are its members? The second question “Why are you important?” How does your organization advance musculoskeletal care, especially of the interdisciplinary kind? The third question is simple: “What’s new?” What are the exciting trends in your field, whether in research, education, or advocacy? A brief summary of a conference can be a great way to highlight important happenings.
Two examples follow. The first is an article by Dr. Pisetsky which discusses advances in the management and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, highlighting presentations during this year’s annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
The second is an article by Dr. Anita Bemis-Dougherty and Ms. Marjorie Kulesa on discussions and the outcomes of this year’s meeting of Movement is Life and its arthritis caucus, which is supported by the USBJI.
For the USBJI to serve as a voice on interdisciplinary care, the organizations must speak. This space in the newsletter can serve as your blog, lectern, or even, your soapbox. We all look forward to your words.
As I write these words, the USBJI is preparing to release the 3rd edition of The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. This publication is a major undertaking by the USBJI on behalf of its members. It is a foundation for any communication on bone and joint disorders, and essential for research. The edition, presented on a brand new website with major improvements in functionality, will permit users to download up-to-date data tables on all major conditions, as well as graphs you can use in presentations, and features an Interactive Report Builder. It is presented to you as a benefit for your members.
I offer you my best wishes for 2015.