At the University of Rochester Medical Center, patient-generated data guide expectations for surgical patients

Woman showing a patient in bed a tablet computer
Integrating patient-generated data offers a new level of engagement for surgical patients, says one orthopedic surgeon at URMC.

As hospitals and medical researchers search for ways to incorporate patient-generated data, a Western New York hospital has developed an approach that provides targeted expectations for surgical patients.

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) began collecting patient-reported outcomes two years ago during outpatient visits for patients undergoing knee surgery. The success of the initiative prompted the hospital to expand that effort across 30 departments over the last year, Judith F. Baumhauer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at URMC, wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The medical center uses a Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS), which requires patients to answer five to seven questions on a tablet. That data is translated into a personalized score that is instantly available to physicians, who can use the data to discuss the possible benefits of surgery.

The PROMIS data can also be integrated with data from the patient's EHR to offer more individualized expectations for recovery and highlight areas where less favorable outcomes require additional surgeon training.

“At the patient level, PRO data allow people to understand what to expect during recovery,” Baumhauer writes. “For example, patients who have had surgery often want to know when they can return to work or participate in sports. By comparing an individual patient’s preoperative scores with prospective population-level PROMIS data, our system can create a roadmap of recovery that predicts functioning in specific areas over time to help answer patients’ questions and set appropriate expectations.”

Baumhauer’s perspective highlights one of the key benefits that many medical researchers, physicians and federal agencies, like the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the National Institutes of Health, see in patient-generated data: improved patient engagement. So far, however, providers have struggled to successfully integrate patient-reported outcomes, particularly when it comes to using digital tools designed to monitor patients remotely.