The national database of the German Collaborative Arthritis Centres is a well-established tool for the observation and assessment of health care delivery to patients with rheumatic diseases in Germany. The discussion of variations in treatment practices contributes to the internal quality assessment in the participating arthritis centres. This documentation has shown deficits in primary health care including late referral to a rheumatologist, undertreatment with disease-modifying drugs and complementary therapies. In rheumatology, there is a trend towards early, intensive medical treatment including combination therapy. The frequency and length of inpatient hospital and rehabilitation treatments is decreasing, while active physiotherapy in outpatient care has been increased. Specific deficits have been identified concerning the provision of occupational therapy services and patient education.