Within the governmental funding program of rheumatological centers a uniform patient registration is performed. It provides information of the proportion of patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases who are seen in specialized care, how early they are seen and which forms of treatment are provided. In 1993 in the 20 participating centers almost 26,000 patients have been recorded. The centers only reach a small proportion of the true prevalence but they see their patients early in the disease: 60% of the patients have been seen within the first year. Deficits exist in the areas of ergotherapy, psychological support and patient education. One reason for the small proportion of people with the diseases who are seen in specialized care is the lack of rheumatologists in outpatient care. More rheumatologists in private practices as well as the participation of clinical rheumatologists in outpatient care including reasonable forms of payment are needed.