What Are Patient Reported Outcome Measures?

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Since their introduction in 2009, Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) have been collected by all providers of NHS-funded care. But what are they? Why are they important? And how do you go about gathering them?

What are PROMs?

PROMs measure patients’ health status or health-related quality of life at important junctures throughout their care. Usually collected through short, self-completed patient surveys, the information provides an indication of the outcomes and quality of care being delivered by the NHS.

PROMs were born from a need to better measure clinical outcomes. While healthcare has always routinely collected data on infection rates, readmissions, re-operations and adverse incidents, unless something goes seriously wrong­­—such as patient death—none of these indicators give any sense of the final outcome of care for the patient.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but until recently, very little attempt was made by the NHS to measure clinical outcomes for the vast majority of its patients ­— i.e. those that don’t die after or during treatment. PROMs represent a departure from this, moving towards a future in which the ultimate measure of healthcare’s effectiveness is whether patient or their family believes it has improved their health.

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Why Are PROMs So Important?

Aside from the self-evident benefits of practitioners having the data to assess their clinical decisions beyond the immediate, PROMS are a vital mechanism in the patient experience toolkit.

Regularly collecting data on the standards of care being provided gives hospitals and practices a clear overview of whether patients are receiving the level of care they should be receiving at every stage of their interaction with the organisation. This is pivotal in ensuring that patients are delivered care that’s responsive and respectful of their needs, as well as in moving towards a patient-centric healthcare model.

Alongside this, PROMS carry the huge advantage of being widely applicable. At the time of writing, their use has been largely limited to assessing the outcomes of surgical procedures such as hip and knee replacements, hernia removals and varicose vein surgery. However, there’s no reason why the methodology can’t be harnessed for other areas of healthcare such as mental health and the treatment of long-term conditions ­­­— providing the potential for more patient-centric care throughout the sector.

Finally, PROMS are a big part of broadening patient engagement. By their definition, PROMS put patients’ engagement with their healthcare and its outcomes front and centre. We’ve covered the clinical case for greater patient engagement before, but some of the benefits for patients who are more involved in their own care include:

  • Greater confidence in managing their conditions
  • Better recall of necessary knowledge and health information
  • Feeling more satisfied with their care and treatment
  • Less likelihood of non-adherence to treatment

How Do You Go About Collecting Results?

The widespread adoption of PROMS could hardly have come at a more fortuitous time for the NHS; modern healthcare technology makes it easier than at any time previous for healthcare providers to engage with their patients. As the NHS goes increasingly digital, the options for delivering patient satisfaction surveys and PROMS questionnaires to patients become ever-more diverse.

Digital Kiosks

Patient self-check-in kiosks are useful for so much more than their primary functions as registration points and digital signposts. Many modern versions also contain in-built and customisable survey modules and are easily repurposed for the collection of PROMs data. All you need to do is create a custom survey, and in minutes, you have a network of points around your facility where patients can submit responses to PROMs questions.

Online Platforms

Like self-check-in kiosks, most online healthcare portals were originally conceived as an efficient way of giving patients access to appointment booking and requesting repeat prescriptions, without the need for their physical presence or a phone call. But that’s only a very limited use of their rich potential.

In the same way that online portals are being used by healthcare organisations to provide patients with information and materials, they can also be harnessed to give patients an easy way to access surveys regardless of geographic location. What’s more, online platforms have the advantage of being accessible through any device with an internet connection, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

SMS

Lastly, any organisations use

 SMS for contacting patients with appointment reminders, important notices and for canvassing patient opinion more generally. So, why not extend its use to the delivery of PROMs surveys too?

SMS has the benefit of being accessible virtually anywhere and by anyone with a mobile phone. This means healthcare organisations have a means of reaching the vast majority of patients, regardless of socio-economic status or familiarity with more complex technology.

 

The introduction of PROMS to the NHS has the potential to radically transform the way we approach healthcare as a society. By seeking to involve patients at pivotal moments in their care, it shifts the focus of care firmly onto the patient and their lived experience, ushering in a future where patients are fully engaged with and have greater agency over their health.

However, PROMS is just one part of patient experience; a comprehensive approach includes everything from patient wayfinding to the way your staff interact with patients. To learn more about how to improve patient experience within your hospital or practice, download our eBook.

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Topics Patient Experience