The aim of this study is To describe a systems-level baseline evaluation of central intake (CI) and triage systems in arthritis care within Alberta, Canada. The specific objectives were to (1) describe a process for systems evaluation for the provision of arthritis care; (2) report the findings of the evaluation for different clinical sites that provide arthritis care; and (3) identify opportunities for improving appropriate and timely access based on the findings of the evaluation.

The study used a convergent mixed methods design. Surveys and semistructured interviews were the main data collection methods. Participants were recruited through 2 rheumatology clinics and 1 hip and knee clinic providing CI and triage, and included patients, referring physicians, specialists, and clinic staff who experienced CI processes.

Over 95% of referring physicians agreed that the current process of CI was satisfactory. Referring physicians and specialists reported issues with the referral process and perceived support in care for wait-listed patients. Patients reported positive experiences with access and navigation of arthritis care services but expressed concerns around communication and receiving minimal support for self-management of their arthritis before and after receiving specialist care.

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