A continuous quality improvement approach is proposed for the assessment and management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) based on scores on a one-page patient self-report multidimensional health assessment questionnaire (MDHAQ), without formal joint counts. The approach includes five simple steps before the patient is seen by the physician: (1) an MDHAQ is completed by every patient at every visit; (2) scores are calculated for patient function, pain, and global estimate, with options for a self-report joint count and other scales; (3) scores are entered on flow sheets with data from prior visits, which might also include laboratory and medication information; (4) scores are compiled into an index termed Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data (RAPID), analogous to a Disease Activity Score (DAS); (5) RAPID scores are classified to guide treatment decisions. RAPID 3 includes the three patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures in the RA Core Data Set - physical function, pain, and global estimate. RAPID 4 adds a self-report joint count, and RAPID 5, a physician global estimate. RAPID 3 can be calculated in about 10 seconds, RAPID 4 in about 19 seconds, and RAPID 5 in about 20 seconds. RAPID 3, RAPID 4, and RAPID 5 give similar results to distinguish active from control treatments in RA clinical trials, at levels similar to American College of Rheumatology or DAS improvement criteria, and are all correlated significantly with DAS28 (rho=0.62-0.64, P<0.001). A proposed classification of RAPID scores, analogous to four DAS28 categories, includes: 'near remission' (0-1), 'low severity' (1.01-2), 'moderate severity' (2.01-4), and 'high severity' (>4). RAPID scoring is feasible in standard clinical care to support continuous quality improvement.