Blog | Sunday, October 26, 2008

Very different conferences

Attending two conferences in a row can be confusing, but I'm pretty sure the rheumatology session I just attended came out of a MGMA attendee's nightmare.

The purpose of the session was to convince rheumatology health professionals (who are co-meeting with the ACR) to refer their arthritis patients to occupational, vocational and physical therapy if they report any effects of their illness on work performance. The speakers made important points about how early interventions and workplace accomodations can lower overall costs by reducing absenteeism and disability payments.

But I think it's no coincidence that 3 of the 4 presenters were from countries with socialized medicine (England, Canada and the Netherlands). For example, the British speaker described the accomodations required for an office clerk with rheumatoid arthritis, which included a flat-screen computer, a customized ergonomic chair, speech-recognition software and construction of a ramp.

In the UK, she explained, the government will cover a signficant chunk of the modification costs. In the US, I thought, the manager of that office would be cringing even at the recommendation to buy an electric stapler.