SSF-ScotSocy-bannerA new initiative launched in September 2015 aims to improve the quality of RA treatment in Scotland so that patients have their disease controlled as quickly and effectively as possible.

The Scottish Metrics for the Assessment of Rheumatoid Arthritis (SMART) project will be asking rheumatology departments across the whole of Scotland to record what happens at key stages of the patient journey. This will provide a clear picture of current clinical practice and help to identify aspects of care that could be improved.

Patients in Scotland with a new diagnosis of RA have been asked to take part in the audit and a special on-line ‘audit tool’ has been developed to capture information about their diagnosis, care and treatment. This data will be analysed to find out how different rheumatology departments deliver patient services in relation to national guidance and to each other.

Led by the Sottish Society for Rheumatology (SSR), the audit has been developed by a partnership working group which includes clinicians who are members of the SSR as well as RA patient organisations, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and Arthritis Care, and the pharmaceutical industry (Roche Products Limited).

“The SMART project is very timely and vitally important,” said Dr Elizabeth Murphy, SSR President. “While there are a host of guidelines for treatment of RA patients, NHS Scotland currently lacks measures that can be used to assess how the health service is performing with regards to treatment of RA, and whether patients are being optimally managed according to these guidelines in order to maximise the likelihood of patients achieving disease remission,” she explained.

Data from patients consenting to take part in the audit is being recorded at the start of the project and again at 6 and 12 months. This will provide a valuable overview of how patients are managed in the first year of diagnosis – a time period where good control of RA is especially important for patient outcome in the long term. All patient information will be collected, processed and stored securely and anonymised before data analysis and publication of findings so that it will not be possible to identify individual patients.

“We will also be asking patients how their RA affects their lifestyle, day-to-day activities and work – it’s essential that we focus not only on clinical information but also capture directly from patients the impact of RA on their lives. Learning from this audit will help Rheumatology teams to develop better patient service and care, and to optimise early treatment of RA,” said Dr Murphy.

The Scottish Society for Rheumatology Audit Tool development is partially funded by Scottish Government Quality Improvement and a collaborative non-promotional working agreement with Roche Products Limited. The advisory board for the audit includes members from the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and Arthritis Care.

For further information, contact Dr Elizabeth Murphy.

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