Community Views: Seeing a Rheumatologist Regularly
At some point, most PCPs refer patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) to a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists specialize in autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases.
These include PsA, lupus, and other arthritis diseases.1 The rheumatologist is often the doctor who diagnoses PsA and oversees your treatment plan.
Frequency and care
How often you see your rheumatologist can inform how you feel about the provider. It also influences your symptom management. We wanted to understand rheumatology visits and your perception of them better.
Followers of our Facebook page recently responded to this prompt: “Fill in the blank & comment: I see my rheumatologist ___ times per year. Is it enough?”
The responses showed that the frequency of visits affects PsA care.
Once or twice a year
Many of you shared that visits with your rheumatologist occur once or twice a year. You were very unsatisfied with provider care and PsA symptom management.
You wrote that doctors do not spend enough time listening at these appointments. You also said that they do not perform thorough exams each time. We heard a lot of frustration expressed with this frequency.
“Maybe 2 times a year if I’m lucky. Seven-minute visits. Like that really does anything. I’m disappointed in care.”
“Twice a year if I’m lucky. Very short appointment and not really interested in hearing how things are.”
“Every 6 months. My PsA is stable, so twice a year is enough for me.”
The most common frequency of rheumatology visits was quarterly. For some, this meant a complete evaluation. For others, it was mostly going over blood work. Those with quarterly visits seemed to have better relationships with their rheumatologists.
They were also more satisfied with their PsA management. You described feeling able to depend on your provider in these responses.
“Every month I get my infusion and blood work, then every 3 months I see my doctor.”
“Four times a year unless needed. Appointments last as long as I need.”
“Every 3 months for a routine checkup and medication assessment. I can also see her anytime I need to.”
“Four and more if needed. Does a thorough joint and spine check and ensures my meds are working, changes things up if needed.”
Living through a global pandemic has changed many things about healthcare. For several of you, this meant not seeing your rheumatologists for over a year. Symptom management often suffers from this approach. It also fails to build the same strong relationships that quarterly visits do.
“Not seen them for 18 months. Apparently, they review my notes but don’t see me because of lockdown.”
“During COVID, not once.”
“In 2020, I went 4 to 6 times. A lot considering the pandemic atmosphere we were (still are) in.”
We appreciate your honest sharing about your rheumatology visits. Thank you for telling us how the frequency of visits affects your treatment.
We hope hearing from one another provides food for thought. By talking to each other, you can better understand your care and relationships with your rheumatologists.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?