Research Shows That Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis And Treatment Can Lower Healthcare Costs

May 10, 2023 (Vancouver) Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease associated with high economic burden to patients and health systems. A research conducted by Arthritis Research Canada’s scientists links early rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and ongoing care to healthcare cost savings.

The study was conducted in a 5-year period in Ontario and based on a 13,293 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis over the age of 65. The research observed four main aspects of rheumatoid arthritis treatment, this included access to rheumatology care, yearly follow-up, timely treatment and ongoing treatment with anti-rheumatic drugs. The research examined healthcare utilization, average healthcare costs and any extra costs resulting from the four main aspects observed.

By year 5, the research revealed that the average healthcare cost per individual increased annually. The study showed that only 35% of participants were consistent with the four main aspects of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Within this group, savings were driven by lower complex continuing care, home care, and long-term care costs, as well as fewer hospitalizations and emergency visits. Individuals with no access to rheumatology care experienced a 20% rise in healthcare costs, meanwhile this cost increased by 6% among people who didn’t receive timely treatment.

“This study showed that access to rheumatologists for rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and early treatment are associated with lower total healthcare cost” said Dr. Claire Barber, research scientist at Arthritis Research Canada. “Investments in improving access to care may result in long-term health system savings.”

To learn more about this research, please click here.



Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose life-changing research is creating a future where people living with arthritis have the knowledge and tools to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is now conducting arthritis research from coast to coast with centres in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and scientists affiliated with six major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, McGill University, and Dalhousie University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at preventing arthritis, facilitating early diagnosis, finding new and better treatments, and improving quality of life.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Victoria Rubio
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Arthritis Research Canada
604-207-4010 or vrubio@arthritisresearch.ca

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