New TIPS Topic Now Available

Learn How to Utilize Patient-reported Outcomes

December 02, 2019 04:40 pm Sheri Porter

What family physician wouldn't want to take patient communications to a higher level and get patients more involved in their health care? The latest topic in the AAFP Transformation in Practice Series -- Improve Care with Patient-Reported Outcomes -- aims to do just that.  

[AAFP TIPS: Transformation in Practice Series]

This brand-new product, the seventh in the series, explores the use of patient-reported outcome measures -- those standardized questionnaires used to measure the impact of care on a patient -- and how they ultimately can improve the quality of care provided in the primary care setting.

In an interview with AAFP News, Tracey Allen-Ehrhart, manager of the AAFP's Center for Quality said, "This is a topic we think is becoming increasingly important for members to understand, but many don't yet have it on their radar."

This resource was authored by Sandy Pogones, M.P.A., a certified professional in health care quality and the AAFP's senior strategist for health care quality. She explained to AAFP News that the process starts when a physician collects data from the patient.  

Story Highlights
  • The latest topic in the AAFP Transformation in Practice Series aims to improve care by utilizing patient-reported outcomes.
  • The process of collecting patient-reported outcomes begins with the physician asking the patient to respond to a questionnaire that is intended to describe how the patient feels about what's going on with his or her health.
  • The AAFP created the course because these types of measures are beginning to show up in new payment models.

"It's a questionnaire that's given directly to the patient," said Pogones. "It's intended to describe how the patient feels about what's going on with his or her health and is not subject to interpretation by the physician or caregiver."

Family physicians likely are familiar with this type of tool; many probably use the patient health questionnaire on depression known as the PHQ-9 in their practices.

"These tools are intended to open up communication so the physician can better understand what impact this disease or this treatment is having on the patient.

"They are outcome measures, and it's important that physicians understand this is where quality measurement is going," said Pogones.

Product Details

The new TIPS product has numerous components, including three interactive, mobile-friendly online learning courses and three customizable slide decks for team training and discussion. Users also will gain access to a set of downloadable tools that address

  • patient-reported outcome measures most useful in primary care,
  • selection of a patient-reported outcome measure for primary care,
  • quality improvement planning,
  • data comparison,
  • implementing a patient-reported outcome measure and
  • training needs.

The tools, developed with input from primary care physicians, are designed to be used by the entire care team and to promote discussion among those team members.

This TIPS topic is approved for up to 20 AAFP Prescribed credits (Performance Improvement CME on completion of a quality improvement project) and 20 AMA Physician's Recognition Award Category 1 credits. Learners can also earn Performance Improvement points toward their Family Medicine Certification.

This product is available to AAFP members for $445; nonmembers pay $575. Users will have access to the resource through Nov. 18, 2021.

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"We wrote this course on patient-reported outcome measures because these types of measures are showing up in payment programs. Members would do well to dip a toe in the water as far as measuring patient outcomes and asking patients how their treatments are affecting them," said Pogones.

"PROMs (patient-reported outcome measures) help physicians learn more about issues that are important to the patient. Just administering a patient-reported outcome measure might get a patient to talk about something he or she had not previously mentioned," said Pogones. "And it might provide insight to the physician about a personal concern that has nothing to do with the patient's medical labs or imaging results."

Pogones added that many physicians likely already are informally addressing patient outcomes in more subjective assessments by asking simple questions such as "How are you feeling?" and "Are you having any side effects?"

"But what's not being done is consistently putting a score to those answers to add a measure of objectivity," she said.

Additional Information

The first AAFP TIPS topic launched in May 2018. The aim of the entire TIPs project is to assist overstretched physicians in implementing practice improvement processes.

TIPS products already in place serve to assist physicians with

  • agenda setting,
  • patient empanelment,
  • quality improvement,
  • clinical data registries,
  • continuity of care and
  • team documentation.