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Lupus Research Alliance Presents Data Showing Innovative Professional Education Program Improves Appropriate Referrals

November 17, 2016

The Lupus Research Alliance announced results showing the success of the Lupus Education Advancement Project (LEAP) in educating front-line providers about lupus with the long-term goal of reducing disparities in lupus among minority and rural populations. Results show statistically significant improvement in participants’ understanding of lupus and their ability to refer patients to appropriate specialists. The data were presented at the 2016 American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) annual meeting by Irene Blanco, MD, of NYC’s Montefiore Medical Center, one of four sites participating in the project.

Through the year-long program, 450 healthcare professionals attended 31 Continuing Education Accredited seminars at four sites representing distinctly varied healthcare systems: Harlem Hospital of the Health and Hospitals Corporation of NYC; Montefiore Medical Center, NYC; Geisinger Health System, PA; and University of California, Irvine Medical Center, CA.  LEAP is based on the success of a previous pilot program that showed rheumatology fellows (physicians training to become rheumatologists) and other junior faculty can effectively educate primary care providers about lupus. The LEAP adaptation included a focus on improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals from front line providers who are most likely to first see a person with suspected lupus to the rheumatologist.

Why Educating Healthcare Providers about Lupus is so Important
Healthcare providers in primary and emergency care may only get about 45 minutes of training on lupus in all of medical school.  Lupus often goes undiagnosed for months and even years, increasing the patient’s risk for serious complications.  Increased medical and practice knowledge can lead to earlier recognition, decreased time to diagnosis, and most importantly, improvement in patient outcomes.

LEAP: Changing How Providers Practice
Of the 450 total participants, 94% reported that the education received in the LEAP seminar improved their confidence in diagnosing lupus. Preliminary data from the four sites show improvement in the appropriateness of referrals.  

  • Over 80% said they would make changes in how they practice that would benefit patients as a result of the seminar
  • 68% are using patient educational materials provided by the LEAP program
  • Nearly 9 out of 10  participating providers were satisfied with the seminar content presented by rheumatology fellows and junior faculty

In addition at ACR, Katherine Steigerwald, MD of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore reported in a poster presentation that the LEAP pediatric pilot program to educate pediatric primary care and emergency room providers about pediatric lupus also showed a statistically significant increase in knowledge as the result of attending a one hour seminar.

This project is supported by Grant Number 1 CPIMP151085-01-00 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to the Lupus Research Institute – now the Lupus Research Alliance as a result of a merger with the Alliance for Lupus Research and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation.

If you are a Program Director, Educator, or Fellow:
A step-by-step Implementation Guide and resources are available for use to implement this project locally. All resources are flexible and can be tailored to serve local needs.


Lupus Research Alliance Presents Data Showing Innovative Professional Education Program Improves Appropriate Referrals

November 17, 2016

The Lupus Research Alliance announced results showing the success of the Lupus Education Advancement Project (LEAP) in educating front-line providers about lupus with the long-term goal of reducing disparities in lupus among minority and rural populations. Results show statistically significant improvement in participants’ understanding of lupus and their ability to refer patients to appropriate specialists. The data were presented at the 2016 American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) annual meeting by Irene Blanco, MD, of NYC’s Montefiore Medical Center, one of four sites participating in the project.

Through the year-long program, 450 healthcare professionals attended 31 Continuing Education Accredited seminars at four sites representing distinctly varied healthcare systems: Harlem Hospital of the Health and Hospitals Corporation of NYC; Montefiore Medical Center, NYC; Geisinger Health System, PA; and University of California, Irvine Medical Center, CA.  LEAP is based on the success of a previous pilot program that showed rheumatology fellows (physicians training to become rheumatologists) and other junior faculty can effectively educate primary care providers about lupus. The LEAP adaptation included a focus on improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals from front line providers who are most likely to first see a person with suspected lupus to the rheumatologist.

Why Educating Healthcare Providers about Lupus is so Important
Healthcare providers in primary and emergency care may only get about 45 minutes of training on lupus in all of medical school.  Lupus often goes undiagnosed for months and even years, increasing the patient’s risk for serious complications.  Increased medical and practice knowledge can lead to earlier recognition, decreased time to diagnosis, and most importantly, improvement in patient outcomes.

LEAP: Changing How Providers Practice
Of the 450 total participants, 94% reported that the education received in the LEAP seminar improved their confidence in diagnosing lupus. Preliminary data from the four sites show improvement in the appropriateness of referrals.  

  • Over 80% said they would make changes in how they practice that would benefit patients as a result of the seminar
  • 68% are using patient educational materials provided by the LEAP program
  • Nearly 9 out of 10  participating providers were satisfied with the seminar content presented by rheumatology fellows and junior faculty

In addition at ACR, Katherine Steigerwald, MD of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore reported in a poster presentation that the LEAP pediatric pilot program to educate pediatric primary care and emergency room providers about pediatric lupus also showed a statistically significant increase in knowledge as the result of attending a one hour seminar.

This project is supported by Grant Number 1 CPIMP151085-01-00 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to the Lupus Research Institute – now the Lupus Research Alliance as a result of a merger with the Alliance for Lupus Research and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation.

If you are a Program Director, Educator, or Fellow:
A step-by-step Implementation Guide and resources are available for use to implement this project locally. All resources are flexible and can be tailored to serve local needs.



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