At Medly Pharmacy, our job is to make the prescription process painless. The physicians we work with, of course, are an essential part of that process. In this installment of an ongoing series highlighting various practices and practitioners who’ve partnered with Medly, we’re introducing you to Dr. Ravi Sutaria, a physician specializing in rheumatology in Queens, New York.
Dr. Sutaria was interested in rheumatology “out of an interest in procedures, and ultrasound and just the musculoskeletal system in general,” he said. His practice in Queens sees a wide variety of patients for every imaginable type of pathology, which makes Queens an appealing place for him to work.
“In Queens, we serve a very varied patient population that includes all disease forms, all variations of all diseases. And really all types of pathology because being in New York, we have every type of culture, every type of person. And as such, every type of disease. So it’s really a nice place to practice to see the full entourage of rheumatology diseases and stuff like that.”
During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, his practice operated on a “very limited schedule,” he said. However, the office is now back to a full schedule with safety precautions. “We just had to kind of extend our hours to be able to accommodate patients, so they’re not all waiting in the waiting room at the same time,” he said.
On the horizon of rheumatology care, Dr. Sutaria sees a refinement in the drugs that are already available.
“I think the future involves just the progression of these medications to get even more checkpoint inhibitors specific or pathway specific, to specifically treat the symptoms that we want to treat without any broad side effects or affecting other parts of the body,” said Dr. Sutaria. “And I also do think that in the realm of osteoarthritis, there’s going to be a lot of new drug development, as there basically has been nothing in the last X number of years.”
Some of the new drugs Dr. Sutaria foresees include biologic drugs to treat new areas of the body. Dr. Sutaria said,
“I think there’s going to be the advent of biologic drugs in the knee osteoarthritis. As opposed to current therapies, which are physical therapy, NSAIDs, and steroid injections. As well as gel shots.”
Psoriasis care is also part of this future, as psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis can sometimes be treated by the same drugs. Dr. Sutaria said, “It used to be that rheumatology only touched psoriatic arthritis and not psoriasis. However, there have been crossovers between biologics. Drugs like COSENTYX, drugs like Otezla. They work across platforms.”
Dr. Sutaria became familiar with Medly through positive word-of-mouth. He said, “Drugs were delivered on time, drugs got the necessary approvals. I know you guys assist with approvals on your end, which as our practice got busier, it became more and more important because we just don’t have the time or manpower.”
Especially in the time of coronavirus, it is critical that clinics have the time to actually “see patients and administer care,” said Dr. Sutaria. “Staff has to do so much other things that we can’t really all sit and get every approval for every patient. The clinic just wouldn’t work that way. So we appreciate that kind of backend stuff.”
Medly’s commitment to same-day delivery is another factor that impacts Dr. Sutaria’s decisions regarding which of several different pharmacies to use. “it just depends on the patient’s location, pharmacy preferences. A lot of these drugs are delivered. The fact that Medly is in Brooklyn doesn’t really impact us in Queens,” he said.
Dr. Sutaria recommends Arthritis and Rheumatology, a major journal in rheumatology, to keep up with continuing education. He also points to the usefulness of conferences. “I try to make the American Rheumatology Conference, ACR, every year. And then every few years I try to go to EULAR in Europe,” he said.
When it comes to advising a new provider, Dr. Sutaria believes one should practice for the right reasons: “for enjoyment of the practice of medicine,” he said.
Dr. Sutaria also highlights an important, but often understated issue with private practice: administrative work. This is something Medly helps with in the form of prior authorization support, but there are also other administrative concerns.
“I would certainly advise them if they’re going to be private, to just be prepared for the non-patient aspects of care that sort of dominate private practice,” Dr. Sutaria said.
“If you’re doing private, just be aware that you will need eight to 10 hours of administrative duties a week. And that comes at the cost of patient care. And that also takes away from what we like doing, which is being physicians.”