A Clinical Information System to Improve the Outcome of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
About 1% of the population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. They not only experience pain but during the course of the disease, their functional capacity is reduced due to a deterioration of their joints. To retard this destructive process an assortment of drugs are available today, however, for optimal results both medication and dosage have to be tailored to each individual patient. RCQM is a clinical information system that moderates this process: within the confines of the examination routine, physicians gather more than 100 clinical and functional parameters. The amassed data are morphed into more usable information by applying scoring algorithms (e.g. Disease Activity Score (DAS), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ-DI), SF-36 Health Survey), which is subsequently interpreted as a function of time. The resulting trends and patterns are ultimately used for treatment optimization and as a measure for the quality of patient outcome. Graphical data acquisition and information visualization provide support during the entire interaction between doctor and patient. Both are equally informed of the course of the disease and, in practice, treatment decisions are made jointly. The task of documentation becomes an integral part of the dialog with the patient. The paper presents those features of RCQM, which yield an increased level of decision quality, patient empowerment, co-operation and an improved treatment outcome, thus exemplifying the role of an advanced clinical information system in best practice treatment.