More than 24 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune rheumatic disorder. A subset disorder called cutaneous autoimmune diseases affects the skin, requiring evaluation and treatment by both a rheumatologist and a dermatologist. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has created a dual rheumatology-dermatology program to help to expedite essential treatment.
“Systemic autoimmune diseases are complex, often involving multiple organs,” says Judith Lin, MD, a rheumatologist and director of the new rheumatology-dermatology multidisciplinary clinic. “By combining our expertise, we can deliver high-quality patient care in a synchronized, efficient way.”
Dr. Lin will direct the clinic with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center dermatologist Abraham Korman, MD. “Our clinic is the first and only of its kind in central Ohio,” says Dr. Korman, who specializes in managing complex diseases, skin infections and chemotherapy reactions.
The leading specialists are looking forward to providing collaborative care to their patients.
“It’s not common for a dermatologist to feel comfortable managing the immunosuppressive medications that we use in rheumatology,” Dr. Lin says of her co-director and his special interest in autoimmune populations. “Dr. Korman understands rheumatology treatments and how they can improve his patients’ lives.”
Dr. Lin notes that by having two visits in the same day, the new clinic will facilitate care for patients who travel long distances to see both specialists.
“We plan to see the more difficult cases, especially those with cutaneous manifestations,” Dr. Lin says. “When a local rheumatologist or dermatologist doesn’t have the expertise or resources to manage refractory autoimmune diseases, they can refer their patients to us.”
From refractory cutaneous lupus to inflammatory joint conditions, the clinic will see patients with all types of autoimmune disorders. The specialists plan to expand their outreach to primary care doctors and other general practitioners around the Midwest region.
The new venture is located at Ohio State Outpatient Care New Albany, which offers patients access to advanced imaging, specialized treatments, outpatient surgery and procedures and a convenient on-site pharmacy. The facility also includes a lab with the ability to offer intravenous therapies.
Discovery through research and education
Dr. Lin notes that rheumatologists have seen more patients with autoimmune issues in recent years.
“Systemic autoimmune diseases are on the rise,” says Dr. Lin. “We’re not certain whether the increase in cases is due to environmental changes, better diagnostics or increased reporting.”
The clinic has plans to research possible causes and better outcomes. Eventually, the clinic will house a biorepository for storing and studying donated tissue samples for clinical trials.
As an academic health center, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center plans to teach its trainees about diagnosing, managing and researching autoimmune disorders. They’re certain to learn that multidisciplinary collaboration pays off for patients and physicians alike.
To refer a patient, please call 614-293-1707.