10 Considerations When Introducing Patient-Reported Outcomes Into your Practice

Posted by Blake McWilliams on 2020-07-31

Whether you’re laying the groundwork for the future demands of value-based healthcare, or furnishing your research team with tools required to gather data, finding the right data collection partner vendor is difficult to navigate. Your expertise may be in healthcare, or healthcare IT, and not necessarily in the niche industry of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs). So how can you make an informed decision that you won’t regret later?

The choice of solutions on the market today is unprecedented, and the costs range from zero to the price of a low-entry EMR. As the data collection and patient engagement market matures, and as government-led quality initiatives reinforce patient-reported data as a permanent element of the standard data-set, more and more vendors emerge, offering a myriad of likely overlapping solutions. It may be hard to discern critical differences until the contract has been signed, implementation has started, and the missing elements become apparent.

Two rules apply when buying Health IT: you get what you pay for; and learn from other people’s mistakes. Free software solutions are either truly free (and, consequently, are not continually improved, enhanced and maintained) or there is a catch (for example, the vendor may lay claim to your data). More expensive solutions are likely to have a continual stream of investment and, therefore, have an eye to the future needs of healthcare, as well as being more robust and reliable. You get what you pay for.

As for the second rule, all software has to go through a cycle of improvement until it stabilizes and meets the real-life needs of its users, broadly speaking. A tried and trusted vendor will have a client base that has weathered the early years of refinement. And if the client base is loyal, the signs are that the vendor has a great service-oriented culture, and a great base product, to compensate for those growing pains.

So, here are ten considerations when evaluating an outcomes platform that may help you identify the best solution for your practice, and help you make the right decision the first time:

 

10 Considerations

1.) Integrate with all PM and EMR systems Integration enables outcomes collection with minimal disruption to the normal clinical workflow.

2.) Automate end-to end data collection Automation is critical - the solution should enroll patients and manage data collection automatically, with minimal staff involvement and burden (not just another IT platform to deal with!).

3.) Put the patient at the forefront As healthcare becomes ever more patient-centric, your technology needs to fully embrace that approach and help position you as a patient-centric institution.

4.) Select the “best-in-class” solution Effective technology has ironed out a thousand wrinkles - don’t be on the learning curve of a new vendor.

5.) Pick a solution flexible to meet the needs of all stakeholders The single data collection system should be of value to administrators, physicians, clinical staff, researchers and critically, patients.

6.) Use a solution that can scale to meet your future needs As your needs, and the demands of healthcare, change you want flexibility to grow. Identify an innovator that has a breadth of proven products and is constantly looking to the future.

7.) Benchmark against a significant database of de-identified data for quality improvement initiatives Your data is of limited value if you can’t use it - benchmarking against other organizations can help identify your strengths and weaknesses.

8.) Demonstrate the value of the solution and the data you collect You need to be able to justify your investment, the vendor needs to deliver actionable data. A leader in outcomes collection with a robust client roster and significant experience can bring valuable expertise.

9.) Apply your data for government reimbursement programs A Qualified Registry (QR) vendor with a track record of reporting to CMS (for MIPS/MACRA and CJR) can make the process painless if the solution is efficient.

10.) Justify the investment You need to consider the total costs of the investment, and the total benefits, including: reduced staff time, reimbursement potential, the value of the data in the quality improvement cycle, and your patients’ satisfaction with the care and engagement you deliver.

 

Summary

At the end of the day, you have to be convinced that the vendor and its outcomes solution, will deliver value to your practice in the short and long terms. Do the groundwork, evaluate a number of vendors’ software, speak to their customers and users, and see the software in action at another practice.

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