Even as the healthcare industry emphasizes patient-centered care and patient engagement, and health systems hire chief experience officers, one of the strongest elements of this strategy remains unrealized by many provider organizations: patient-reported outcomes.

Patient-reported outcomes, as defined by the National Quality Forum, are “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.”

For areas such as orthopedics, cancer, and HIV, the direct input of the patient is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. But patient-reported outcomes have not had substantial adoption, in part because integration with most electronic health systems is kludgy, and providers have not figured out how to blend PROs into the workflow of their daily practice.

“I do not believe that there has been a resistance to physicians using PROs,” says David Ayers, MD, director of the Orthopedic Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial Health Care. “Traditionally, PROs have been used in research and have been well accepted and validated. But the use of PROs in office practice has been slowed by the lack of integration into patient flow in the clinical setting.

“Trying to do patient-reported outcomes on your own with pen and paper is very difficult. You need them to be computerized and available on Internet-based platforms so information can be immediately analyzed, scored, and utilized,” he says.

Ayers is passionate about the need for widespread use of PROs in orthopedics, and their ability to improve quality. PROs provide objective information about where a patient is in the disease process compared to the larger population and whether the patient is a candidate for joint replacement surgery, he says.

Five years ago, Ayers, who also is chair of the Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, helped obtain a $12 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop an orthopedic joint replacement registry.

This article by Sandra Gittlen, was originally published on HealthLeaders magazine. To read the full article, please click here