Health care providers are cautiously kicking the tires on amajor government initiative designed to drive better medicaloutcomes: patient-reported outcomes.


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Patient-reported outcomes were the creation of the Centersfor Medicare and Medicaid Services in the agency’s ongoing quest tofind ways to base medical reimbursements on the merits oftreatment. These are essentially verbal or written reports frompatients describing how they think their treatment either helped orhurt them.


To find out if health care organizations were eliciting thisinformation from patients, Salt Lake City, Utah-based health careconsultant Health Catalyst sought input from officials at 100U.S. health care providers.


The outcome: No one is rushing to attend this party. Overall,just 18 percent say they have integrated patient-reportedoutcomes into their health care assessment system. That, saysHealth Catalyst’s Paul Horstmeier, is going to have to change ifthe effects of patient-reported outcomes on patient health areto be realized.


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“Patient-reported outcomes are critical to enabling healthcare'sevolution away from focusing on the volume of services delivered tothe value created for patients,” says Horstmeier, senior vicepresident of Health Catalyst. “Their use promises seismic changesnot only in the way providers are paid, but how they measuresuccess, how patients choose their doctors, and most importantlyhow clinical outcomes are improved. Yet with few exceptions ournation's hospitals are unprepared for the shift and need helpmanaging this new priority within the ever-shifting field oftime-intensive regulatory requirements.”


What’s holding up the adoption of patient-reported outcomes? Thesurvey found four primary culprits:

  • Time and/or money to gather the data: 36 percent.

  • Difficulty integrating data collection into the daily clinicalroutine: 26 percent.

  • Limited technology: 15 percent.

  • Organizational resistance to change: 10 percent.

For the 18 percent that have adopted patient-reported outcomes,the most common reasons for doing so were:

  • Chronic-care tracking: 59 percent.

  • Surgical interventions: 58 percent.

  • Mental health tracking: 27 percent.

  • Cancer patient symptom tracking: 22 percent.

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Even though the survey found that adoption of patient-reportedoutcomes is extremely low to date, it won’t be long beforeplenty more organizations are using the data, Health Catalyst said.When it asked respondents whether they planned to integratepatient-reported outcomes into their systems in the next oneto three years, 72 percent say they plan to do so.

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