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On one Monday afternoon each month, BWH Rheumatology patients who also have cardiovascular issues are seen at the very same place where they are seen for their musculoskeletal issues, but this time, they see a Brigham cardiologist. These patients are part of the Cardiovascular Clinic in Rheumatology, a model for integrated, patient-focused care, located within BWH’s Orthopedic and Arthritis Center.
“I was encountering so many issues regarding cardiovascular disease in my rheumatology clinic that the need for expert cardiology input for these patients became clear,” said Jonathan Coblyn, MD, director of BWH Clinical Rheumatology and the Center for Arthritis and Joint Diseases. “Fortunately, we found willing partners in Cardiology to help us manage these patients.”
Michael Brenner, MD, chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, reinforces the science behind this effort. “While existing guidelines for cardiovascular disease management provide a starting point for managing the risk of heart disease in rheumatology patients, less is known about how to select the most effective interventions for these patients,” he said. That’s where the clinic comes in.
At the clinic, members of BWH’s Preventive Cardiology group Jorge Plutzky, MD, Paul Cohen, MD, PhD, and Jonathan Brown, MD, evaluate the patients referred by Rheumatology Division members. The clinic has been developed through close collaboration with Coblyn and Arthritis Center rheumatologists Katherine Liao, MD, MPH, and Daniel Solomon, MD, MPH. Some patients undergo a one-time consultation to assess their cardiovascular disease risk; others are followed over time, depending on their need.
The clinic is a successful, pioneering model of multidisciplinary patient care and collaboration. It draws on the expertise of BWH cardiologists and rheumatologists to provide a tailored patient care experience that takes into account the complexities associated with both sets of diseases, doing so in a setting familiar and easy for those patients.
“We are excited that this clinic provides an example for integrating programs and bringing services directly to the patient,” said Plutzky, who along with Coblyn and Solomon, was instrumental in starting the clinic. “It breaks down barriers and allows us to work together to tailor treatment recommendations, expand our expertise in these complex patients and establish opportunities for research.”