How to Collect High-Quality PROMs for Surgery

Patient-reported outcomes are a crucial tool for every surgical practice, but how do you know if you’re collecting high-quality PROMs for surgery?

The quality of the data you collect can be the difference between your practice’s success and failure. Patient-reported outcomes highlight the most meaningful changes to your patients’ lives resulting from their procedures. A recent meta-analysis found that at least one patient-reported outcome was statistically significantly prognostic for lung cancer survival in the majority (87%) of studies assessed. Collecting high-quality PROMs for your surgery practice can help you improve health outcomes for your patients and grow your practice.

Key Takeaways

  • Patient-reported outcomes provide valuable information to guide surgical decision-making.
  • An investment in collecting high-quality PROMs will ensure that the data you collect guides your practice in the right direction.
  • Implementing strategies including establishing clear goals and automating your data-collection process can ensure success and maximize your return on investment.

The Importance of Collecting High-Quality Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-reported outcomes are a key component of the overall shift towards patient-centered care in surgery and the wider healthcare industry. They help to capture the patient’s experience of their illness and surgery to promote patient engagement and enablement.

By placing focus on how the procedure has impacted the patient’s life, patient-reported outcomes help to guide clinical practices and policies for the best possible health outcomes and highest levels of patient satisfaction. This in turn leads to growth and improves the reputation of your practice.

The higher the quality of the patient-reported outcomes you collect, the better their impact on your practice will be. Higher quality PROMs are:

  • Accurate, providing you with data that captures the true impact of surgery on your patients’ lives.
  • Comprehensive, capturing the ensure picture without omitting important details that would inform your clinical decisions.
  • Targeted, collecting only the most pertinent information. 
  • Actionable, collecting data that you can act on to make clinical and business decisions and better your services.
  • Accessible, making the knowledge you gather readily available for your team to act on.

The following strategies will help ensure that the design of your patient-reported outcome measures delivers accurate, comprehensive, targeted, actionable, and accessible data to benefit you and your patients.

The Best Strategies for Collecting High-Quality PROMs for Surgery

The quality of your patient-reported outcome data is a function of how well you design and implement your tools. The resources spent collecting patient-reported outcomes can be maximized by following these key strategies: 

Establish Clear Goals

It’s imperative to clearly define the purpose of your patient-reported outcomes. PROMs can be a powerful tool to inform the care you provide each patient and shape your practice’s policies and overall decision-making, but they don’t measure everything, and without clear goals for the use of your patient-reported outcomes, you can easily waste time and resources gathering data that will not serve your needs.

Adapt the Format to Your Audience

In our digital age, you have a wide range of options to choose from when collecting patient-reported outcomes. You could administer a survey via:

  • Mail
  • Email
  • Text
  • Website
  • Patient portal
  • Phone
  • Or in person

Different methods will suit different patient populations, so it’s important to assess who you want to reach before selecting a PROM format. Younger populations tend to respond better to texts than phone calls, for example. In-person surveys require more staff time and physical resources but might be the best way to capture responses from patients who are otherwise unresponsive to follow-up messaging.

SMS marketing statistics
Source: https://www.smscomparison.com/mass-text-messaging/2022-statistics/

Whoever your survey is targeting, providing your patients with a choice of format so they can complete it at their own convenience is the best way to increase participation and obtain the data you want.

Automate the Process

Automating the process of collecting, storing, analyzing, and sharing the patient-reported outcome data can save you significant time and resources. Automated processes help by:

  • Reducing demands on staff. Manually collecting and entering survey data can be very time-consuming for your team. Collecting the same information online can speed up the process and free up your team to interact directly with patients.
  • Sending well-timed reminders. Automated reminders can help nudge patients to complete surveys and improve participation without any extra effort from you.
  • Improving accuracy. Manual data entry is naturally prone to error, which can be significantly reduced by automated data entry and storage methods.
  • Enhancing scalability. As your practice grows, your automated PROM system can grow with it. Unlike manual systems which require more staff and resources the larger your business grows, an automated system is designed for easy expansion to serve more patients, more physicians, and multiple locations.

Implement Validated Tools and Questions

If one exists that meets your needs, implementing a validated PROM-collection tool can save you considerable time and resources. Validated PROM-collection tools have been thoroughly tested to ensure they are effective and useable, which means that you don’t have to develop your own.

Untested tools and questions can cause the waste of resources due to inaccurate or misleading results that drive you to take unnecessary action. However, if no validated tool exists that meets your particular data collection needs, that may be a risk worth taking.  

Keep Surveys Brief

Brief surveys are key to ensuring patient participation. If your questionnaire appears too long or time-consuming, your patients are less likely to complete it, or they may begin to complete it but skip some questions, leaving you with an incomplete dataset that could compromise your ability to gather the information you need.

An ideal survey should have no more than thirty multiple-choice questions. If you are asking any open-ended questions, you should include even fewer. Overall, aim for your survey to take patients between five and ten minutes to fill out.

Average survey completion times
Source: https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/survey_completion_times/

Explain the Purpose of the Survey

Your patients need to understand the purpose of your survey to give you the best results. Patients might otherwise assume that the answers they provide could impact the healthcare they receive, affect their costs or insurance eligibility, or be sold to a third party. By informing your patients about the true purpose of the survey, you can encourage more open and honest responses that will serve you better.

So, when your staff administers or hands over the questionnaire, have them clearly explain what the information will be used for. Include information about how you will protect your patients’ privacy and remain HIPAA-compliant.

Collect High-Quality PROMs with Wellbe

Collecting high-quality patient-reported outcomes for your surgical practice can be easy with the right solution. Wellbe’s ConnectedCare is designed to integrate seamlessly with your practice, automating hundreds of non-clinical tasks to provide you with the patient information you need, when, and how you need it.

Contact us today to learn how Wellbe can set you up for success.

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