Fibromyalgia Educational Initiative

The National Fibromyalgia Association in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing have announced the launching of an Initiative they call the Fibromyalgia Circle of Care. This project intends to provide information to health care providers about the disease and its treatment. The hope is that this initiative will lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses for fibromyalgia sufferers. Some 10 million Americans are afflicted with fibromyalgia syndrome.

Expedited Referrals

Circle of Care will hold a series of seminars and other activities for rheumatologists, primary care physicians (PCPs), pain management specialists, psychiatrists, physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and nurses (RNs). The range of activities is intended to teach providers about the disease, how it is diagnosed, the importance of early diagnosis and expedited referrals to appropriate health care professionals, and about multidisciplinary care. The program will also inform the professionals of the latest innovations in treatments and treatment plans. Professionals will also receive a heads-up on new therapies still in the testing stages.

Victor Marrow, Ph.D., the Executive Director for the Office of Funded Programs/CME Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, offers this assessment, "Many fibromyalgia patients see an average of four physicians—over a duration of five to eight years after the onset of the disease—before an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia is achieved. This represents five to eight years of underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment of the patient." Marrow hopes that The Fibromyalgia Circle of Care Initiative will address these shortcomings and lead to better patient care. 

Unique Collaboration

President and Founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association, Lynne Matallana comments, "The Fibromyalgia Circle of Care Initiative is unique in its collaboration among healthcare organizations and leaders to raise awareness of the disease state through an interactive program that effectively drives provider participation and implementation of evidence-based lessons within their own practice. After completion of this program, participants will be fully prepared to use the tools and lessons learned to positively and tangibly impact the quality of life of these patients."

It is estimated that 6% of patients seen in the framework of a general medical practice are afflicted with fibromyalgia. A 2003 study estimated that health care costs for treating the condition ranges from $12-$14 billion every year. The impact of the disease on the total productivity of the U.S. is set at an annual loss of from 1-2%. Insurance companies find that fibromyalgia claimants cost them twice as much in annual costs than those of the majority of insurance beneficiaries. Disability claims are also twice as high in the fibromyalgia group as they are for typical employees. The kicker, perhaps, is that each dollar spent on fibromyalgia claims corresponds to an additional $50-$100 that must be spent by employers on related costs.

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