New evidence proves the value of patient-reported outcomes over time

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Partners Healthcare in Boston has seen benefits for physician and patient satisfaction after implementing patient-reported outcomes.

The transition to value-based care delivery has resulted in a huge variety of quality measures. The promising results seen from patient-reported outcomes (PROs) suggest their benefits may outweigh the barriers to their implementation.

Physicians at Partners HealthCare have seen evidence that properly implemented PROs can benefit patients and doctors alike, according to an op-ed article in the New England Journal of Medicine. More than 1,500 physicians use PROs, which the system introduced in 2012. Despite initial challenges smoothing out technological kinks and accommodating PROs in physician workflows, physician sentiment has shifted over time.

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“Evidence from experienced users suggests PRO collection is not only feasible and good for clinical care but also may enhance physician satisfaction and prevent burnout,” the authors report. Those benefits come in several areas:

  • Physicians report that the use of electronic screening questionnaires can actually improve their workflows, as they no longer end up wasting valuable face-to-face time on paperwork. Instead, they can use the information to focus quickly on areas of concern to patients.
  • Greater focus on patients’ perspectives helps give providers a clearer picture of a patient’s symptoms and supports shared decision-making, according to the authors. They describe more fruitful risk/benefit analyses when physicians can respond directly to patient concerns with evidence to support better courses of treatment. That reinforces the doctor-patient relationship and can raise both physician and patient satisfaction.
  • PROs lend themselves to broader, more systematic screening, which can guide physicians toward important conversations with patients that might not otherwise take place. For example, the authors describe how the ability for patients to disclose sensitive issues electronically helped caregivers treat issues related to domestic violence, which patients had been unwilling to address during regular visits.