Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS, on How I Practice Now: Using a Multidisciplinary Approach to Managing Autoimmune Disease

In this video, Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS, talks about her experience with managing autoimmune disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her hopes for the use of telemedicine in the future.

Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS, is an assistant professor and a co-director of the CTD-ILD Program in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Elizabeth Volkmann: My name is Elizabeth Volkmann, and I’m a rheumatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Like many of you, the coronavirus pandemic affected my clinical practice in a myriad of ways. I care for patients who have autoimmune lung disease, specifically interstitial lung disease and the study of systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, as well as myositis. And in the patients I care for who develop COVID-19 infection, what we’ve observed is that many of these patients develop inflammation of their underlying autoimmune disease that could, perhaps, be triggered by the virus. So we’re using a very multidisciplinary approach to treat these patients that involves not only rheumatology but pulmonary medicine, infectious diseases, as well as radiology. Using this multidisciplinary approach, we’re developing tailored treatment plans for these patients that very often involves immune suppression. But obviously a lot more research is needed to understand what is the best way to treat these patients. In terms of my outpatient practice, I have transitioned all of my patients to telehealth. So this is done either through a telephone call or a video platform. And I have to say that this has opened my eyes to the possibilities of using telehealth in the future for caring for our patients with autoimmune disease. Many patients in the United States and throughout the world live in very remote areas, where they may not have access to an academic center to be able to see a specialist in their condition. So I’m really hoping that telehealth becomes part of our health care practice moving forward in the future. Thank you for your time, and take good care.