Patient-reported outcomes can significantly improve quality of care

Dec 30, 2015 | Hospital Finance Efficiency

While more health care providers work toward patient-centered care, few are willing to adopt a system of patient-reported outcomes that many experts believe can greatly improve care quality.

According to the National Quality Forum, PROs are any kind of report directly from a patient about his or her health condition without any clinical input. These types of reports would be especially helpful in the areas of orthopedics, cancers and HIV, which could benefit both diagnosis and treatment. Providers have been slow to use these types of reports, though.

David Ayers, the director of the Orthopedic Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial Health Care, told HealthLeaders magazine that this can mostly be attributed to poor integration with most electronic health systems and the difficulty of incorporating it into already established daily workflows.

"Trying to do patient-reported outcomes on your own with pen and paper is very difficult. You need them to be computerized and available on Internet-based platforms so information can be immediately analyzed, scored, and utilized," Ayers said.

But Ayers is a big proponent of the widespread use of these reports, explaining that they provide indispensable and objective information about a patient and the disease on an individual scale that can improve quality of care. As they pertain to orthopedics, Ayers says PROs can better determine if a patient requires joint replacement surgery based on their personal level of pain.

Using PROs also expands communication with a patient and involves them in the decision-making process. Ayers explains that this system can more accurately determine a patient's eligibility for surgery compared to a system that only uses a clinician's impression.

A recent study conducted by the MD Anderson Cancer Center found that many patients with acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome received inadequate treatment due to incomplete recognition of certain symptoms or symptom severity levels. The study concluded that these problems could have been avoided with patient-reported outcomes.

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