Physician ability to assess rheumatoid arthritis disease activity using an electronic medical record–based disease activity calculator




To assess physicians' concordance with Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) categories calculated by an electronic medical record (EMR)–embedded disease activity calculator, as well as attitudes toward this application.


Fifteen rheumatologists used the EMR-embedded disease activity calculator to predict a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) DAS28 disease activity category at the time of each clinical encounter.


Physician-predicted DAS28 disease activity categories ranged from high (>5.1, 15% of cohort, 66 of 429 patient visits) to moderate (>3.2–5.1, 21% of cohort, 90 of 429 patient visits) to low (2.6–3.2, 29% of cohort, 123 of 429 patient visits) to remission (<2.6, 35% of cohort, 150 of 429 patient visits). Overall concordance between calculated DAS28 results and physician-predicted RA disease activity was 64%. Using either the physician-predicted or the calculated DAS28 category as the gold standard, accuracy was greatest for patients in remission (75% and 88% accuracy, respectively) and those with high disease activity (68% and 79% accuracy, respectively), and less for patients with moderate (48% and 62% accuracy, respectively) or low disease activity (62% and 31% accuracy, respectively).


Accurate physician prediction of DAS28 remission and high disease activity categories, even without immediate availability of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate or the C-reactive protein level at the time of the visit, may be used to guide quantitatively driven outpatient RA management.

This article was published online on March 30, 2009. An error was subsequently identified in Figure 4. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected.