What’s in it for Patients?

Posted by Blake McWilliams on 2019-11-18

How to get patient buy-in for completing PRO forms

Promoting patient-reported outcomes (PRO) collection programs to patients comes with its share of challenges. One of the biggest hurdles can be explaining to patients how, when and why to complete PRO forms.

We’re often asked, “What’s in it for my patients?” “Why should I have them complete PROs?” These are important questions and “because the doctor asked you to” isn’t a good enough answer.

In addition to promotional material such as the video shown above, practices invested in data collection take things a step further by showcasing PRO scores and data to patients before surgery and throughout recovery. Providers and groups convey to patients that their data will help their doctor take a unique approach to treatment for their specific symptoms, set expectations, and guide recovery. It helps explain to patients the “why” behind completing (the same!) questionnaire before and after treatment.

This sample view of the OBERD Patient Trends view enables a provider to have a follow-up consult with a patient that might go like this:

“Here’s your scoring trends since surgery last year. The black line with green dots is your trended shoulder score. Your line is overlaid on a colored chart that shows the total average scores of all the patients like you for whom I’ve performed this procedure. So this is how you’re doing relative to my other patients.

“The green area represents the upper 25% of patients for whom I’ve performed this procedure and the red area is the lower 25%. The middle 50% is the gray area showing my median trended score represented by the dotted horizontal gray line.

“Based on your scores so far, which I got from those online forms you filled out, here’s how you’re trending relative to patients like you. As you can see, completing the form again in a year will show us a full trended view of your recovery. We’re going to continue PT and other measures to make sure you stay above average and, hopefully, improve up into the green.”

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It’s important to convey to patients that their data is part of a larger data set that their doctor and institution will use to improve overall care for all patients in their community. Programs and messages such as these give patients agency over their healthcare and also appeal to their sense of community and altruism. Indirectly, PROMs enable individual patients to improve the quality of care in their communities -- all by completing online questionnaires.

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