PROs & PROMs 101: An introduction to patient-reported outcome measures

What if healthcare had a better understanding of a patient’s perspective? Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) can help.

The ability to better capture a patient’s perspective will positively impact both patients and providers alike. Healthcare is looking toward patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to help connect objective clinical data to the subjectivity of a patient’s experience in hopes that it will help enhance the quality of care.

This 101-style guide is a foundational starting point to understanding PROs, how they are measured, and the importance of the information they generate.

Table of Contents

What are patient-reported outcomes (PROs)?

PROs as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition, health behavior, or experience with healthcare that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.”1

What are examples of patient-reported outcomes?

Some examples of PROs include:
  • Symptomology
  • Functional ability
  • The impact of a disease on quality of life

How are patient-reported outcomes measured?

Ready for another acronym? PROs are assessed through PROMs (patient-reported outcome measures). PROMs are standardized tools – such as surveys, scales, or single-item measures. The individual questions that comprise PROMs are intended to capture a particular PRO, such as symptomology or functional ability.

What are examples of patient-reported outcome measures?

For PROMs to be effective, they must ask something that the patient can answer to the best of their ability.

Let’s say a patient recently underwent hip surgery. An effective question for them could be something like:

Whereas asking the patient if they think their incision site is infected would not be appropriate because it requires a clinician’s assessment.

Why do patient-reported outcomes matter?

Since PROs are subjective, they allow providers to incorporate the patient’s experience of their care into future decision-making. For example, a chemotherapy agent may work well from a clinical standpoint but leave the patient ill for much longer than expected. When clinicians have information from the patient’s perspective, it helps improve care going forward.

Furthermore, using PROs paired with objective clinical data helps create a continuous improvement cycle that supports higher-quality care delivery.

How can capturing PROs impact EHR workflows?

It’s no secret that the ever-evolving task of clinical documentation increases a clinician’s HIT burden.

Unfortunately, many PROMs are currently administered using paper-based forms, where scores must be manually calculated and entered into the EHR by hand.

PROMs and PROs must be made computable by linking clinical terminology to the correct standardized codes within the EHR to make it easier to aggregate data across patient populations without adding to clinical burden.

To learn more about how to turn patient-reported outcomes into actionable data, read our white paper:

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