At the end of the day, patients want to be able to know what their best treatments options are and how their own health can improve. Linda Bosserman, MD, assistant clinical professor and staff physician, City of Hope, explained that quality measurements allow patients access to this information because without measures of quality, clinicians and health plans cannot exactly reflect on what it is they are doing well on.
Dr Bosserman said that basing improvements off of clinical trial results is not the most accurate method of evaluating quality. When there are patients with comorbidities on multiple medications and of various ethnic backgrounds, the small, selected number of participating study members in clinical trials doesn’t represent the real-time population.
Without the feedback, tools and processes that quality metrics offer, there is no means of improvement. Dr Bosserman said that she and her team didn’t see improvement until those outcomes were understood.
“Once we started measuring, you keep learning and you keep improving your processes and you standardize more and you talk to patients and you engage them more to keep them healthy and to try to target the right treatment to the right patient,” Dr Bosserman said. “These measures are the beginning of the transformation of this [healthcare] system.”
In addition, a part of measuring quality is taking into consideration patient-reported outcomes. Dr Bosserman said that the idea of a patient coming in for their clinical visit and saying they don’t feel well simply doesn’t work anymore. The provider needs the appropriate information on hand to address all of the patient’s concerns.
“If we can integrate the patient reported outcomes into our decision-making and our clinic visit, whether it’s a phone call or however that visit goes, we can much better address patient symptoms and hopefully minimize them not getting sick between treatments,” Dr Bosserman said. “I don’t know if we know the best system yet, but maybe we could integrate something that really tracks those outcomes.”
While integrating patient-reported outcomes is still in its beginning stages, Dr Bosserman is hopeful that emerging tools will help clinicians in the future.