Healthcare quality improvement has the potential to reduce the striking disparities in health outcomes among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Donabedian's framework for assessment of healthcare quality, which divides factors impacting quality into structures, processes and outcomes, provides a theoretical framework for research and interventions in quality improvement. This review applies Donabedian's model to current research describing quality of care in SLE, highlighting structures and processes that may lead to improved outcomes. Work remains to be done to develop meaningful metrics to assess quality and to understand the structures and processes that improve outcomes. Quality indicators have emerged as an important tool to measure quality, but further validation is required to define their validity and feasibility in clinical practice, as well as their association with improved outcomes. Implementation science also shows promise as a means to create meaningful systematic improvements in healthcare quality for patients with SLE.