Chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer are among major public health concerns. To understand their cumulative risk factors and antecedents, a chronic disease databank consisting of time-oriented, multidisciplinary longitudinal data, prospectively collected on consecutive patients and describing their clinical courses, provides a systematic anthology of patient reported outcome (PRO) data. ARAMIS, which began in the mid-1970s, was the first large-scale chronic disease data bank system. Outcomes data are collected using the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), a well established PRO instrument that collects patient-centered data in the areas of disability, pain and other symptoms, adverse effects of treatment, economic impact, and mortality. More than 900 peer-reviewed studies have emanated from ARAMIS since its inception. In the earlier days, and even today, ARAMIS had to invent its own tools for the study of these new sciences. ARAMIS has made dominant contributions to the understanding of PROs and to helping improve treatment and health outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), scleroderma, lupus, aging, and drug side effects. It continues to traverse terrain with participation in the NIH "Roadmap" project, the Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS). PROMIS is designed to provide improved assessment of health status across all chronic illnesses as part of an improved infrastructure for clinical research. As initiator of the rich history of chronic disease data banks with "rolling" consecutive open patient cohorts, ARAMIS has enabled the study of real-world PROs in rheumatology, with a wealth of resultant improved approaches to treatment, outcome, cost effectiveness, and quality of life.