It seems as though the most valuable thing we have is time. Work days for health care providers are increasingly stressed by the burden of administrative work related to reimbursement or documentation for regulatory purposes. Given the fact that these functions are necessary for a provider to remain in practice, it is no surprise that providers feel squeezed for time and patients sometimes feel that their provider is spending more time looking at a computer screen than at them. At the same time, new care models are recognizing the importance of patient reported outcomes (PROs) and are even using a portion of reimbursement upon PROs. What is a provider or health care system to do to address this problem of time?
While clinical outcomes measurements have been a central part of the evaluation of new treatment modalities for decades, the use of PROs has only recently been recognized as a central part of the transition to value-based reimbursement models for health care. Given the issues related to the time available for a patient encounter, providers and patients alike have embraced using ePROs (electronically delivered tools to collect PROs) as a potential solution. ePROs can be delivered automatically via the internet using email, automated telephonics or downloadable applications (apps). Many providers have implemented ePROs in a way which complements their current workflow and facilitates incorporation of the PROs into the patient’s visit with their provider. Some have chosen to use the time before a patient is “roomed” to collect PROs via iPads. Others have chosen to utilize email functionality to automate the collection and evaluation of PROs between visits. Solutions that use native apps have also been developed so that PROs can be collected even when a patient is not connected to the cloud. All of these approaches can automate the collection of PROs and help ensure that the time the patients spends with their provider is focused on their major concers/questions.
Evaluation and Clarification
However, automating the collection of PROs is only part of the solution. Having systems that utilize rules to evaluate and send additional validated or non-validated survey instruments to clarify issues identified in the initial PRO are also a critical part of solving the time problem providers face. For example, using individualizable rules to reflex to such additional surveys may identify patients who need to be contacted to schedule an office visit or referred to a specialist for care. The ability to identify such situations in the interval before the next regularly scheduled office visit can potentially improve the clinical outcome and the PRO. It can also potentially lower the cost of the patient’s overall care on the basis of identifying and treating complications before they result in a hospital readmission. The automation of PROs is not only important to address the provider time problem but also to improve clinical outcomes.
VitalHealth Software has developed ePRO solutions that automate the delivery and evaluation of validated and non-validated survey instruments. Our solutions have proven to save time for providers and are valuable tools from the patient’s perspective as well. These automated solutions don’t replace face-to-face interactions between patients and providers but rather ensure that the time spent in the face-to-face interaction is valued by both the patient and provider. For more information about VitalHealth Softwares ePRO solutions please contact us.