Are patient-reported outcome measures worth the effort? 47% of clinical leaders are unsure

Forty-seven percent of clinical leaders, along with 40 percent of executives and 31 percent of clinicians, are unsure if it's worth it for organizations to use patient-reported outcome measures, according to an NEJM Catalyst Insights Council report published Oct. 3. 

PROMs convert patient responses about symptoms and function loss into numerical scores so comparative analysis is possible. Implementing PROMs can be complicated, according to the report, requiring integration of new data with existing EHR applications and potentially increasing staff workload. 

When NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members were asked in a June 2019 survey whether the effort to collect, process and implement PROMs was worth the result, 49 percent of all respondents said it was worth it, while 38 percent said they didn't know and 13 percent said it was not. A higher percentage of clinical leaders than clinicians said they didn't know if the effort was worth it, while more clinicians than executives or clinical leaders said the result wasn't worth the effort.

The University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center has used PROMs for about four years and it has been well worth the effort, according to Judy Baumhauer, MD, professor and associate chair of orthopedic surgery at the university and director of coordinating and collecting patient-reported outcomes. In the report, Dr. Baumhauer added that there were implementation challenges, citing "growing pains" that come with new initiatives. 

Thirty-eight percent of organizations use PROMs, the report found, with 17 percent of respondents planning to use PROMs in the next three years. The main reason to use PROMs was improving patient experience (60 percent), followed by better quality metrics (52 percent). 

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