Purpose of review: To acquaint rheumatologists with pay-for-performance and the American College of Rheumatology quality initiative, and to suggest how practice process redesigns and effective measurement of performance and disease outcomes will help rheumatologists document and improve the quality of rheumatic disease care.
Recent findings: The options for treating rheumatic diseases have improved, but many patients are not achieving optimal outcomes. Pay for performance programs being introduced by Medicare and other insurers will link provider revenues to quality indicators, requiring rheumatologists to measure, document, and improve their patients' outcomes. Expected rheumatology manpower losses will also require greater practice efficiency and increased reliance on inter-disciplinary care teams. Some publications advocate improving healthcare by expanding research to improve knowledge transfer from clinical studies to clinical practice; others suggest continuous process improvement methods to improve delivery of care processes. Practical disease activity measurements and rheumatology practice improvements are being reported that suggest a positive future.
Summary: Rheumatologists need to recognize the need to improve delivery of care and patient outcomes, measure and document clinical performance, and learn the methods for managing clinical process improvement.