Using Patient Reported Outcomes to Improve Patient Reviews and Outcomes – PART 2

Posted by Blake McWilliams on 2018-09-04

This article is the second in a series of Executive Guest Posts by Steve Wood, PhD, OBERD Senior Vice President – Strategic Partnerships

Collecting and Sharing Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) with patients can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes and grow the surgical practice through more and more wide-spread positive patient reviews.

In Part 1 of this Blog we highlighted the relationship between physicians who collect and share PRO data with their patients and the patient proclivity to rate their physicians higher in satisfaction reviews. This finding was reinforced in an MGMA article that provided two very telling points for procedure-oriented physicians, they were: “Positive patient experience emerges when a patient is engaged with useful knowledge about his or her own condition” and “Word of mouth can make or break a physician’s office with patients and referral sources.” In this part of the article we’ll address how practices can use PRO survey data to achieve higher patient ratings and better outcomes that will drive greater practice success.

Collecting PRO Data Efficiently The strategy begins with collecting the PRO data, pre-op and at appropriate intervals post-op. This can be a challenging task if undertaken internally and fraught with potentially substantial practice interruption. However, there are services such as Oberd’s Essentials program that can begin the collection, registry and reporting processes very quickly, without practice work flow disturbance, and are almost always less costly than using internal resources.

Using PRO Data Pre-Op to Increase Patient Ratings As indicated in one of my previous articles, the simple request for pre-op PRO survey completion, if done properly, can signal the practice's interest and compassion – a much desired trait by patients. The survey should be presented with an explanation about the importance of understanding the patient’s functional situation so their physician and staff can develop the most effective treatment approach to achieve the best outcomes. The ability to present the survey in a way that the patient can complete it in a digital format results in much higher, and more accurate, completion rates.

With the data being collected pre-op, or prior to any non-op procedures, the physician should review the results prior to seeing the patient to identify specific pain and/or functionality issues and address them with the patient. The physician can indicate where he/she believes the patient will improve and what activities will be necessary for the patient to achieve the best results. This personalized, patient-centered, evidence-based clinical decision making process results in better informed and more highly satisfied patients as they have a better understanding of where they stand and the outcomes they may expect.

Some patients may be hesitant to engage in surgery. The use of the PRO data in the situations where the only viable solution is surgery – i.e., injections and rehabilitation will not adequately address the patient’s issue - can demonstrate to the patient the improvement that may be expected. Particular attention should be given to how the patient’s function compares with that of other patients of similar age and gender, with the morbidities they present, and how these factors impact the patient’s likelihood of achieving a clinically meaningful benefit from the proposed procedure.

PRO data can also be used to address lifestyle issues such as smoking or obesity. This can be done by referencing the PRO data and indicating that by adjusting these behaviors, if necessary, the expected outcomes would be better than if not addressed. This indicates preparation and focus on the physician’s part, both of which are appreciated experience items by patients.

Increasing Patient Ratings by Using PRO Data Post-OP PRO data can be used effectively to inspire positive communications by patients post-surgery as well. Personally discussing the post-op survey results in an effective way can lead to patients telling their story to others about how much and in what ways the procedure improved their lives. Going through the overall and sub-score data by the physician, or perhaps by the physician’s assistant, can inform the patient of the many ways they received value from their procedure. Indicating to the patient that their score has increased “X%” from their pre-op survey gives them a metric to share and is based on their personal assessment of the outcome.

Encouragement to share the results with others, personally and on digital formats such as social media and web sites such at GOOGLE, Healthgrades and Yelp should be a part of the discussion to increase the reach of the favorable opinions. Patients can be encouraged to do so by appealing to their opportunity to share their experience with, and benefit, broader audiences.

It Doesn’t Take Any Longer to use PRO Data with Patients Finally, the very good news is that using patients’ PRO data in discussions does not take any longer than that typically dedicated to a procedure visit. In a study conducted by the University of Austin Medical school, it was found that “there was no significant difference in the duration of the in-office consultation … between the shared decision making group and the control group, and surgeons reported greater satisfaction with consultations under the shared decision making program.”

Conclusion In conclusion, the collection and use of PRO data can elevate patients’ ratings of their surgeon by enabling a data-driven shared decision interaction and informing patients of their expectations with respect to their procedure and the outcomes they have achieved. Higher ratings will drive positive word-of-mouth marketing and encourage the use of digital media to spread the word about physicians who satisfy their patients. The word of the patient is thus leveraged to grow the surgical practice and increase the performance and satisfaction of the surgeon.

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