Patient-reported outcomes are becoming increasingly important to patients, providers, and payers.
As healthcare in the United States continues to shift toward a value-based care system, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are becoming increasingly important to patients, providers, and payers.
For specialty medical practices and clinics, these voluntarily reported outcomes also have the potential to be a clinical differentiator and are giving a competitive advantage to those who fully leverage this data.
Today more than ever, patients have choices when it comes to where they receive care. For hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and physician practices, being able to quantify the value of care provided is a crucial aspect to improving patient acquisition, especially in a competitive market.
What are patient-reported outcomes and why do they matter?
As defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), patient-reported outcomes are reports coming directly from patients about their health conditions, or health behavior, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician.
Among the information that patients may typically self-report are:
PROs are usually collected with validated questionnaires that are received directly from patients. These questionnaires range from general health surveys to questions about specific issues or treatments.
For example, the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) measures short and long-term symptoms and function among knee or osteoarthritis patients. KOOS was developed to help providers assess their patient’s own opinions about their knees and potential problems to gain further insight into how symptoms and functions change over time.
From a clinical perspective, PROs help healthcare organizations improve care outcomes and optimize patient experiences. Focusing on quality of life and functional abilities, rather than physiological and medical results, PROs help providers consider patient goals, participate in shared-decision making, and facilitate a more value-based care delivery method. Operationally, PROs directly impact quality ratings, such as those published by CMS and are often used as part of value-based reimbursement ratings.
The ability to capture and properly analyze patient outcomes allows organizations to answer key quality questions such as, “How do our outcomes compare across providers?”; “How do our outcomes compare to other practices?”; and “How and where can we best improve?”” Together, these elements directly impact patient acquisition, patient retention, and provider reputation.
Challenges with patient-reported outcome collection
Despite their clinical and operational value, the use of PROs is not yet as widespread in the United States as it should be, according to The Commonwealth Fund.
Among the reasons often cited as to why PROs are not collected more often are:
The role of patient compliance
To effectively assess quality of care, improve care delivery and conduct research, clinicians need to have a robust database of patient outcomes data. However, generating this database requires patients to participate and provide the required health information. As in most industries, it is difficult to consistently engage the consumer.
With PROs, studies have shown that compliance rates widely vary depending upon the target patient population, modality of administration, and the care setting. For example, one study has shown that among patients who received shoulder arthroplasty, PRO compliance was 72% at baseline, 47% after one year and 33% at the two-year mark.
Achieving high compliance of PROs to achieve differentiation
When it comes to PROs, there is no single solution for practices to maximize compliance and guarantee meaningful results. Instead, providers should seek to consistently address as many of the tactics outlined below to achieve high quality data, engaged patients, and meaningful insights to improve care quality and the patient experience.
Getting it one
While collecting PRO data is essential for achieving successful patient-centered care strategies, it is also critical for positioning medical practices as being true health care partners, that empower patients to take an active role in their care.
In this era of increasing consumer choice, physician practices can utilize PROs to further set themselves apart from the competition and position themselves as preferred care providers in the market.
Matt Gitelis is the founder and CEO of PatientIQ. PatientIQ is cloud-based solution that empowers hospitals, health systems, private practices and industry partners to collect, measure and analyze patient-reported outcomes data to improve clinical and operational performance.