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29th Apr

2018

Kia Ora Auckland!

by Sarah Comensoli

Well, what a treat the 2017 ARA meet was for me! My 4th ARA conference, but the first one which has required a passport. I hope I wasn’t the only one that triple checked that I had my passport before leaving home.

As always, I travelled as part of a contingent from BJC Health. It’s always nice to travel to these meets with a small group which represents our group as a whole and what we are trying to achieve. Diverse in ages, clinical roles and exposure to rheumatology, yet brought together by a hunger to learn more about how we can improve our care for our rheumatology clients.

We set off bright and early from Sydney as a team of Rheumatologists, Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists along with our fabulous Care Co-ordinator Flora. Any of you that know our team well, know how much we love our food. So once we had dropped off our bags, we were onto our first meal. We hit up the Crab Shack for our first meal..which hit the spot!

Then onto the conference! And what a great conference it was!

When I look back at my highlights, I was able to narrow it down to a few key themes.

  • Times, they be changing!

Not a surprise, but the meet really stressed that the world of medicine and healthcare is changing. FAST. Hearing some of the more clinical presentations which discussed the latest research in all things to do with microbiomes, immune diseases and pharmacological interventions highlighted how much is going on in the world of rheumatology.

We heard how with some conditions the bar is already set high in terms of what options we have in order to help individuals achieve better health and function. One great slide though highlighted just how many different considerations a rheumatologist may take into account when deciding how to manage and adjust a particular treatment approach. It was quoted that there are up to 200 factors all up!! Each new fact or new treatment option was a good reminder of how remaining both up to date is an essential part of delivering best quality care in today’s health space.

  • Health Literacy….do I consider this enough?

One of my favourite talks was given by Rochelle Buchbinder. A great summary and potential solutions were presented to what seems like a complex and common problem. I felt like I received a wakeup call! Am I checking this enough? What strategies do I have if my “normal” ways of doing things isn’t working? Am I able to modify my message in ways that suit different patient needs? It was a concept that I was able to then take back and present back to the team at BJC. Although we feel we are competent, we can be better.

  • Family and friends count, as does perception

Another great talk discussed how patient perception impacts their adherence to a treatment regime. It was a good reminder that illness perceptions drive coping behaviour and engagement in treatment. Gout was presented as an example which helped illustrate that we as health professionals may perceive different conditions very different to our patients. The beliefs, attitudes and support offered by family and friends also has a large impact on an individual’s health behaviour. 

Overall such a great conference. As an Allied Health professional, it was great that the conference provided such a good mix of content. I value learning from my rheumatology colleagues, and feel that there has definitely been a shift in recent years to shine the spotlight on topics such as patient empowerment, health literacy and have been great to set us all the challenge of better engaging with our patients in a way that helps them address the health with positive behaviours.

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