Lupus is a disease of many faces that requires closely monitored medical guidance. Throughout a lupus patient’s lifetime, they should feel comfortable with their medical care. Doctors and patients should come up with a concrete plan on how to approach treating symptoms and problems that arise with lupus. To maintain lupus, it does not hurt a patient to work as a team with their doctors in order to figure out a plan of action against this cruel disease.
A treatment approach called Treat to Target is a good way to go about dealing with problems that arise with lupus. This treatment approach has been used in other diseases to help patients live the best that they can. Patients who have diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes have benefited from using this plan of attack.
This treatment strategy is when a doctor and patient come up with a strategic plan to achieve goals with their medical care. They do this by developing goals, methods of how to reach their goals, and deadlines on when they have to reach them by. If their strategy is not working, it is changed to a more suitable treatment plan. The goal of Treat to Target is to improve the quality of life for lupus patients so they can live their life to their fullest potential.
What are specialists doing to make sure this treatment strategy is effective?
Since this treatment strategy has worked previously in other diseases, twelve lupus experts set out to get the facts straight and study if this plan actually worked or not. Beginning in 2012, a group of international specialists got together to study Treat to Target. The group of specialists consisted of doctors in these fields: Rheumatology (muscles and joints), Nephrology (Kidney problems), Dermatology (skin), Clinical Immunology (Immune Disorders), Internal Medicine (adult diagnosis and prevention of diseases), and a lupus patient representative.
The group leader and professor of Clinical Therapy Research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden, Ronald Van Vollenhoven, described what exactly Treat to Target does. “The Treat to Target concept has actually several elements. It has the target, which you decide you want to achieve; how you are going to measure the targets, how you are going to determine that you did in fact achieved it or not; and then the implementation of one or more therapeutic steps that hopefully are going to make it possible to achieve that target.”
The group of specialists developed four principles and a set of 11 recommendations for this strategy to work with the disease of lupus. Most of the recommendations and principals deal with remission, improving the quality of life with lupus, and preventing damage to part of the body.
Dr. Vollenhoven described what the group of specialists came up with in order to improve quality of life. “That’s the whole idea of treating the patient [making them better], but I do think it makes a difference if you, first of all, identify specific targets, so you’re very clear about what you want to achieve. You also identify the correct way of measuring it. You develop a timeline for this, so something can be achieved in a relatively short period of time and other things taken over time. Finally, you also make the agreement with the patient and also with yourself [as the physician], that if you do not achieve this target at the right point in time, then you will do something else.”
What’s the next step for Treat to Target?
The next step for Treat to Target is to have controlled clinical trials to see if this treatment method can be as successful as it has been with other disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Whether this treatment plan will end up being a home run or strike out for lupus patients, the specialists involved in this study are hopeful and confident that Treat to Target will be a hit.
Read the full journal article on Treat to Target here.