Patient-Reported Outcomes Improve Patient Engagement and Care

September 19, 2016

The provision of patient-centered care leads to better engagement between patients and their healthcare teams. One way to encourage patient-centered care is to incorporate patient-reported outcomes into clinical settings.

The provision of patient-centered care leads to better engagement between patients and their healthcare teams, according to a study from Danielle C. Lavallee, PharmD, PhD, and fellow researchers. One way to encourage patient-centered care is to incorporate patient-reported outcomes into clinical settings. These outcomes can shed light on valuable information that only the patient can provide such as the patient’s experiences of symptoms, quality of life, and functioning; values and preferences; and goals for healthcare, the researchers reported in a study published in Health Affairs.

Patient-reported outcomes can play a role in successful shared decision making, which can enhance the safe and effective delivery of healthcare, according to the authors. These outcome measures complement existing biological measures and physical examinations because they provide standardized assessments of how patients function or feel with respect to their health, quality of life, mental well-being, or healthcare experience.

For instance, patient-reported outcomes can measure an individual’s ability to return to recreational activities or be free of pain following a spine surgery. So when such outcome measures are incorporated into the healthcare visit, they can encourage conversations between patients and doctors that lead to better individualized care.

Some of the ways to include such feedback are

  • to encourage electronic data collection
  • to include outcome measures in value-based payments
  • to facilitate calls by the patients to advance shared decision making

Besides enhancing patient engagement and shared decision making, patient-reported outcomes can be helpful in the following:

  • Assessing the severity of symptoms: By systematically capturing patient-reported outcomes, medical providers can highlight patients’ experiences of symptoms. This information is important for assessing health and monitoring treatment effects.

  • Tracking outcomes: Over time, patients and providers can observe important trends related to diet, sleep, or exercise and adjust care accordingly.

  • Informing treatment decisions: Information extracted from patient-reported outcomes has been shown to inform patient-physician discussions in surgical care. If medical care and physical therapy do not effectively control symptoms, surgeons can make changes in the national norms for surgery to suit the patient’s needs.

  • Monitoring general health and well-being: Routine collection of patient-reported outcomes provides important information about an individual’s overall health.

  • Connecting providers to patient-generated health data: New technologies enable more data collection. Also, patients are increasingly interested in and willing to share this type of information, especially if they are aware that the information will be used in dialogue with the treating provider. The increased availability of health apps, wearable devices, and sensor technologies allows patients to easily track information about their health and well-being, movement and exercise, diet, and sleep.

“Collecting and using patient-reported outcomes in clinical practice is one practical way to meaningfully transform healthcare, replacing its narrow focus on clinical outcomes with a more holistic view of the patient,” the study authors concluded. “Ultimately, the goal is for a person-centered view of care to drive improvements in practice and in the health of individuals and populations.”