Online first

Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2021-04-24
Artigo original

Rheuma SPACE - Standard Practice Aiming Clinical Excellence: the first Portuguese Rheumatology Department evaluation

Macieira C, Barreira S, Cunha-Miranda L, Nero P, Laires P, Bogas M, Farinha S, Freitas I, Lucas P, Sousa J, Narciso L, Mateus E, Silva JCd, Fonseca J, Group RSS


The Portuguese Rheumatology Society (SPR) embraced quality as a major goal and launched, in early 2015, a program to aim for excellence in global clinical care: Rheuma SPACE - Standard Practice Aiming Clinical Excellence. Evaluating daily reality is the first step in a quality development timeline, ultimately contributing for health gains. Herein we describe the results of the evaluation of the quality indicators defined for this project and the improvement strategies identified. The Rheuma SPACE project included three phases: 1) establishing a set of quality indicators and an excellence quality model; 2) assessment of the current care at Rheumatology departments concerning the defined quality indicators in the scope of the excellence model; and 3) elaboration of global and customized reports for each participating Rheumatology department, resulting in the identification of improvement opportunities. Ten Rheumatology departments, countrywide, including larger and smaller institutions, were asked to participate in Rheuma SPACE. This resulted in an individual report for each department along with global benchmarking practices analysis. Furthermore, a list of improvement initiatives was developed. We concluded that departments lack physicians and need exclusively dedicated nurses. Time dedicated to research and audit activities should be specifically allocated. Internal contracting is well established, and professionals are committed to targets. Processes are still suboptimal, needing standardization of triage criteria, more frequent follow-up, as well as better medical records and multidisciplinary coverage. Regarding outcomes, patients are satisfied with the provided care and professionals with the working environment. However, department facilities for the former, and career related aspects, for the latter should improve. With this innovative study conducted in Portugal we expect to have enlightened tailored opportunities for improvement, ensure patient-focused practices and be able to define the indispensable quality requirements for excellence.