A Quick Guide to Patient-Reported Outcome Measures for Bariatric Surgery

Provider instructing a patient on patient-reported outcome measures in bariatric surgery

An estimated 38% of health care organizations currently use PROMs across all surgical specialties, and 17% more plan to use them within the next three years.

Well-designed PROMs improve clinical decision-making and provide key insights that enable quality improvements. Patient-reported data also helps health care organizations prove the value of their programs to patients, payers, and referral partners.

This quick guide to patient-reported outcomes in surgery provides key considerations for organizations creating or enhancing their PROM systems.

Key Takeaways

Some of the key takeaways you’ll find in this article:

  • Use targeted metrics that align with the patient, provider, and program goals.
  • Engage patients to become active participants in their care. 
  • Emphasize person-focused care strategies to improve patient-provider relationships.
  • Leverage technology to make data collection simple and cost-effective.
  • Use data in a meaningful way. 

Why PROMs Are Essential in Health Care

PROMs have been in use since the 1970s but didn’t gain real momentum until 2000, when patient-centered care became a focus. 

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have established guidelines to support health care providers in designing and using PROMs to improve quality care measures.

PROMs assist providers and organizations with:  

  • Increasing patient engagement
  • Detecting complications earlier
  • Identifying process improvement opportunities
  • Assessing the effectiveness of treatments and procedures
  • Encouraging patient-provider communication
  • Demonstrating the value of programs
  • Reducing costs

PROMs collect data using surveys or questionnaires that allow patients to share their real-life experiences.

Patient-reported data is subjective, representing each patient’s unique experience over their health care journey. For this reason, PROMs have become valuable patient satisfaction measurement tools.

Challenges with PROMs

There are two main challenges with PROMs in bariatrics:  collection and quality of instrument.

Depending on the speciality and the timing of collection, health care systems can see response rates as low as the single digits.  Not having enough quality responses will impact the validity of the results as well as limit the providers’ ability to capture essential information that can help with early intervention.

Furthermore, a study of more than 24 PROM/Quality of Life measurements produced only one instrument which “has the potential to be recommended.”  Coupling that with the lack of an accepted collection process means there is significant opportunity to improve the use of PROMs in bariatric practices.

Design Elements of PROMs

Consider the following 4 key elements when designing an effective patient-reported outcome system: 

1. Targeted Metrics

Capturing relevant data is essential for quality improvement, and metrics are the foundational elements of PROMs. Metrics should align with the patient, provider, and program goals. 

While PROMs do provide information about patient perceptions and experiences, they do not necessarily identify causes. For this reason, survey tools should include a wide range of data points. 

PROMs that include both open-ended and closed-ended questions allow care teams to capture a wide range of data points. Open-ended questions offer qualitative insights about each patient’s unique experience, while closed-ended questions provide quantitative data to analyze across wider patient populations.

There are a number of measurements that should be used to understand your bariatric patients.  Those measurements could include:  :  

  • Bowel symptoms/dumping
  • Attitudes
  • Psychological behaviors
  • Movement/mobility
  • Eating behaviors
  • Self-esteem
  • Pain/discomfort
  • Quality of life
  • Weight 

Hospital leadership teams responsible for designing and monitoring PROMs should regularly reassess the effectiveness of the targeted metrics and make enhancements as programs evolve. 

2. Patient Enablement

Engaged and prepared patients are more likely to follow post-surgical guidelines, which leads to better outcomes.

Patient enablement platforms help connect patients, providers, and organizational leadership in a meaningful way, improving data collection for analysis, and ultimately improving the long-term care of patients.

PROMs give providers insights into how patients are progressing in their journeys and identify opportunities for quick intervention to reduce overall recidivism.

By directly sharing their own experiences through digital forms, patients easily share insight into their challenges and successes.  This may lead to positive behavior changes which reduce medical complications and unnecessary costs.

Giving patients a sense of control over their care encourages them to become active participants in their health. Organizations should provide patients with the tools necessary to become actively involved in their care. 

3. Moving from Patient-Centric to Patient-Focused Care

Patient-focused care is a more holistic view of health care. While patient-centered care has traditionally focused on patient-provider interactions, person-focused care involves the accumulated knowledge of a patient over their lifetime. 

Patient feedback is vital for person-focused care because it offers deeper insights into patient values, life circumstances, and unique health risks.

Within a patient-focused care framework, PROMs support the deepening of communication with providers.  In turn, the providers can use the information to continue to support the progress and health outcomes.  In other words, PROMs play a key role in strengthening rapport and trust.

4. Technology

Today, patients expect to use innovative technology throughout their bariatric care journey

While it is possible to collect PROs through paper surveys, digital formats are easier, more efficient, more patient-friendly and, as a result, have higher completion rates. As virtual care, patient portals, and digital therapeutics become more common, technology makes it easier for patients to monitor their health. 

In some cases, organizations may be able to leverage existing technology without adding extraordinary costs. For example, simple electronic PRO surveys are cost-effective for clinics to obtain vital information about patient experiences.  

Well-structured technology also makes it possible to: 

  • Administer pre- and post-surgical surveys
  • Automate patient reminders
  • Prepare and submit data to regulatory agencies
  • Analyze survey results

Digital data collection provides instantaneous feedback, enabling providers to make treatment changes in real-time.  

Transformative leaders are leveraging technology to make data collection simple and cost-effective and giving them deeper, real-time insight to support patient-focused care efforts.

An example of patient-reported outcome measures in surgery
Image Source httpsmediumcomubxdpromenade using patient reported outcome measures proms to keep patients safe e1b311366595

Improving Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in Bariatric Surgery 

PROMs are essential for the long-term success of bariatric surgery programs. 

When used as an evidence-based decision-making tool, PROMs effectively and efficiently improve patient engagement, communication, care, and outcomes.

Technology can help lower health care costs by simplifying the process of collecting and managing patient-reported outcome measures, and in bariatric surgery centers, it would provide more long-term follow-up data, allowing your center to easily measure and report outcomes.

Wellbe’s automated patient enablement platform makes it easier for providers and health care organizations to manage patient-reported outcome measures in surgery—without drastically increasing costs.

Learn more about how Wellbe’s digital solutions can help you manage your PROMs. Contact us or call at 1-800-960-4118.