Technology and healthcare outcomes are intrinsically intertwined. Where would we be without the X-ray machine or the MRI? What will be possible in 20 years because of DNA sequencing? It’s fun to think about — but more commonplace technologies and tools have the ability to make new and fundamental changes today.
Take the humble Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO), for instance. Long a staple of clinicians’ tool kits, Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) are simple surveys meant to gauge the severity of patients’ symptoms, improvement, or other measures of health. While the analog version of PROMs has been integral to patient care for decades, the ability to collect this information remotely has been a gamechanger for clinicians — and patients.
Recent research revealed that breast cancer patients’ “perspective on their physical well-being can provide a better indication of their response to cancer treatment than clinician-based tools….” So it’s little surprise that another study found cancer patients who regularly reported their symptoms improved their overall well-being.
In fact, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found “People with advanced cancer who communicated their symptoms weekly using an electronic survey had about a one-third better physical function and over a 15% better control of their symptoms compared to those who were evaluated less frequently via in-person clinical visits….” The UNC trial, also known as PRO-TECT (Patient Reported Outcomes To Enhance Cancer Treatment), shows the value of telehealth and PROMs not just to the quality of care, but to outcomes.
With an estimated 50% of cancer symptoms going unreported, UNC Lineberger also says, “Electronic systems that facilitate patient-reported outcome (PRO) surveys may identify symptoms early and prompt clinicians to intervene before the symptoms become more complicated or complex, thereby improving outcomes.”
The study involved over 1,000 patients, and the patients in the PRO group — as opposed to those in the “usual delivery of care group” — had “35% better ability to function physically, a 16.1% better control of their symptoms and a 41% better overall health-related quality of life.”
The AMA “Return on Health” framework identifies clinical outcomes, quality, and safety, access to care, patient, caregiver, and family experience, and physician satisfaction experience as important indicators of return on investment (ROI) in telehealth projects. By those measures, it’s clear that the research is telling us remote monitoring of PROs is here to stay — and integral to improving patient care.
One of the key factors that drives the success of remote patient monitoring through PROMs is the sheer accessibility. When you make it easy for patients to report their symptoms or complete follow-up care, they are far more likely to do so. Home-based cardiac rehab program, Chanl Care App, found this out first-hand. Chanl partners with more than 50 hospitals to bring the app to their patients and has helped its client double enrollment in cardiac rehab with approximately 80% of patients completing the program.
To learn more about PROMs explore these resources:
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