Rheumatology Circuit Brings Healthcare to Small Towns

To help bring services to rural areas, some rheumatologists are taking a page from ministers and judges in the Old West. Circuit-riding physicians go from hospital to hospital to provide access to services in areas that might not have coverage any other way.

Robert Jackson, DO, is president of Premier Specialty Network (PSN) and a rheumatologist practicing at nine hospitals in Missouri and Iowa. PSN partners with local hospitals to establish satellite clinics staffed by top-level doctors.

“I am a small-town kid who went to a small college,” he says. “After medical school, I was drawn back to the rural lifestyle and the fact that the presence of specialists is crucial to maintaining their healthcare system. There is a valuable mission to be served.”

Long-term Commitments

Under the PSN model, long-term contracts are signed with the participating hospitals and doctors. Most places do not have the population to support a full-time specialist, but are able to justify expenditures on a part-time basis. These allow the physician and the hospital to develop and cement relationships in the community. PSN has had doctors and hospitals working together for more than 20 years.

Small Town Rheumatology

“Sometimes, rheumatologists come to a local community, build up a practice, and then return to urban settings, hoping their patients will follow,” says Dr. Jackson. “Our physicians insinuate themselves as much as possible into their communities, helping with staff and public education as well as simple things such as getting their oil changed locally.”

The Marshfield Clinic provides care at more than 50 locations and two hospitals in Wisconsin. They use a staff model where the specialists are directly employed and practice at Marshfield-owned clinics. Their physicians also see patients at outreach facilities in other areas.

SOURCE: Ullman, Kurt. “Rheumatology Circuit Brings Healthcare To Small Towns – The Rheumatologist”. The Rheumatologist. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 May 2016.