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Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates, PC:  Leading the Way in Rheumatology

Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates PC | Angel Magar

Boasting an impressive team of over 60 exceptional Providers, Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates (AARA) stands tall as the nation’s preeminent private practice rheumatology clinic. Supported by a world-leading Clinical Research organization, and an unwavering support staff of more than 300 professionals, AARA is a formidable force in the field.

Dedicated to providing the highest standard of care, AARA serves a staggering 1,400 patients daily across Arizona, solidifying its reputation as a trusted destination for those seeking expert rheumatological care. At AARA, patients find a single-stop solution for their needs, as the clinic embraces a focused and experienced approach to assessment and planning. The comprehensive range of services offered, including on-site phlebotomy and processing labs, X-ray DEXA bone density, and ultrasound facilities, alongside injection and infusion therapies, allows AARA to deliver a holistic, coordinated, and patient-centered approach to healthcare.

Let’s delve into the specifics of the primary methods employed in Arizona’s approach!

Comprehensive Approach to Patient Care

At AARA, the team adopts a thorough approach that begins with a detailed initial new patient appointment. During this appointment, the patient referral, past results, and records are carefully reviewed along with the patient’s input. A comprehensive physical examination is conducted, and rheumatology labs and imaging tests are performed to create an initial assessment and plan for the second visit (V2).

At the V2 appointment, the team makes informed decisions and takes necessary actions. This can include providing lifestyle advice and offering a range of medication options, such as oral medication, injection, and biologic infusion therapy.

AARA’s team consists of highly knowledgeable and experienced professionals. Each Physician is board-certified by FACR (Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology). At the same time, each Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner is certified as an Advanced Practice Clinician (APC) by ACR (American College of Rheumatology). With this expertise, the team navigates the intricacies and complexities of various inflammatory patient disease states with confidence and proficiency.

Combining on Collaboration, Confidence, and Care

AARA views the assessment and care of the patient as a collaboration between healthcare providers and the patient themselves. Full disclosure and open discourse is fundamental to the degree of confidence everyone involved has in the process and adherence to follow-up schedules in addition to lifestyle and medication compliance. It is key that patients feel that they are comfortable, heard and supported throughout their journey to an improved quality of life.

The practice has, since AARA’s inception in 1994, been focused on three key areas:

  1. World-leading patient assessment, treatment and care
  2. Sustainable commercial performance
  3. Providing an inspiring place for employees to work and grow

These fundamental principles continue to guide the practice’s decision-making processes. Over the past 30 years, the Physician-ownership model has played a crucial role in facilitating the growth of the practice. Currently, there are 18 Board-Certified Rheumatologists who serve as equal owners and play significant roles in making key decisions for the business.

A Trailblazer in Healthcare Management

Angel Magar, CEO of Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates, PC, began her healthcare management journey over 25 years ago in the Washington DC tri-city area. She pursued her education at Johns Hopkins University, obtaining both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her goal was to work in various medical specialties, making a significant impact in the field. Angel started as the director of operations for a multi-specialty hospital-owned group in Maryland. The group encompassed specialties like Otolaryngology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Family Practice, Urgent Care, Occupational Health, and Pediatrics.

Later, Angel took on the role of administrator for the largest orthopedic group in Northern Virginia, where she managed a team of orthopedic surgeons and several rheumatologists. The transition to AARA in 2007 brought new challenges as the COO. She was eventually promoted to CEO 8 years ago. Under her leadership, AARA has grown from a 70-employee, 4-location, and 12-provider practice to a robust organization with over 300 employees spanning three countries, 13 locations, and more than 60 providers.

Angel’s main focus has always been on streamlining processes, especially in rheumatology due to the high volume of patients and the complexity of managing expensive in-office infusions. Her expertise in managing operations has led her to be invited to speak at various rheumatology practices and summits across the country. AARA is recognized as an industry leader and actively hosts other rheumatology groups and APP summits.

Angel acknowledges that the success of AARA is not solely her achievement, but a result of a dedicated team. As a CEO, she encourages open communication and values everyone’s input regardless of their position. Hiring the right people for the right roles and empowering them to work to their full potential is a core principle of AARA. The practice is known for being one of the best places to work in Arizona by AZ and The Arizona Republic newspaper. Angel remains grateful for her tenured staff’s unwavering commitment and dedication.

Empowering Healthcare Excellence

The impact of effective technology solutions cannot be overstated in AARA. The company’s market-leading technology infrastructure allows it to operate efficiently in various aspects, such as initial patient assessment, effective patient communication, and resource utilization. This enables them to meet the growing demand for services and achieve patient-focused targets on a daily basis. AARA has internal targets, like completing every request, form, forward referral, refill, and authorization stage, and responding to patient queries by the end of the working day. They diligently track these metrics and use technology-enabled reporting to hold themselves accountable.

AARA’s patient experience greatly benefits from technology integration. They use technology to communicate with patients and gather information promptly, enhancing efficiency and providing a satisfying patient experience. Recently, they introduced 24/7 HIPAA compliant text messaging to offer maximum flexibility and satisfaction to patients.

In terms of research, AARA’s in-house Research organization relies on efficient technological support tightly aligned with their Electronic Health Records system. Their Value-Based Care score, which performed at 107% against nationally set targets in 2022, heavily depends on the effective use of technology.

From a clinical perspective, AARA’s phlebotomy and processing lab operate efficiently, allowing hematology and urinalysis testing results within 24-28 hours. The on-site X-ray and DEXA bone density machines enable targeted assessment by the Radiology team, with results typically available within 48 hours. Additionally, each clinic is equipped with ultrasound machines for more focused musculoskeletal assessment and precision-guided injection therapies.

Leading the Way

AARA is a top leader in its field and excels in administrative, clinical, and patient outcomes. However, its most significant market-leading approach is the company’s proactive scheduling method. Instead of blindly scheduling referred patients, AARA takes the time to assess its referrals, records, and results carefully. They prioritize patients based on their needs.

AARA understands the issue of long wait times for accessing healthcare, which can sometimes be as long as six months for the initial assessment. With the AARA team’s proactive approach, it can offer patient appointments as soon as the next day. This allows AARA to quickly benefit patients with specific conditions. By providing prompt access and answers, the clinic often makes a significant positive impact on patients immediately.

Meeting the Growing Demand

“By far our biggest challenge in rheumatology nationwide is the increasing demand and the reducing capacity. As referrals and diagnoses improve, the demand for specialist medicine is growing exponentially and beyond our best endeavors to satisfy such,” says Angel.

AARA has been consistently increasing its service capacity by expanding existing clinics and introducing new ones. Recently, they have set up clinics and added healthcare providers in San Tan Valley, Prescott, Chandler, and Houghton. These changes were made to meet the growing demand from patients. Moreover, AARA has strategic plans for 2024 to make even more patient-focused improvements in their services.

Putting Patients First

Angel believes that the most important advice for anyone entering the sector is to always prioritize prospective and current patients. To succeed, it’s essential to deliberately plan, target, and oversee the patient experience. Adopting a respectful approach and ensuring positive clinical outcomes are also vital for success. In fact, all planning and investment decisions at Angel’s organization revolve around maintaining a focus on patients and anticipating the impact on their well-being.

Vision for 2024-2027 and Beyond

AARA is currently evaluating strategic plans for the future, which include expanding to new sites and offering more services beyond 2024-27. The organization has planned additional clinical growth in various locations like Houghton, Tucson, Casa Grande, Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Prescott, Tucson, Glendale, Sun City, and Avondale. The goal is to have more than 75 healthcare providers on the team by 2025, and they have recently agreed to bring in four new physicians within the next twelve months.



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