What Do Orthopaedists Believe Is Needed for Incorporating Patient-reported Outcome Measures into Clinical Care? A Qualitative Study

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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2021 Nov 30. doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000002059. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are increasingly promoted for use in routine orthopaedic care with the expectation that if they are made available during encounters, they will be incorporated into clinical practice. We investigated an initiative in which PROMs were systematically collected and provided via the electronic health record but were infrequently used.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: In a qualitative study, we asked: (1) Why are PROM results not being used in clinical care when they are available to surgeons? (2) What aspects of PROMs are seen as useful for clinical care? (3) How are PROMs generally perceived by surgeons and orthopaedic leaders?

METHODS: A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted in a single health system in an urban setting using semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of orthopaedic surgeons and leaders who would have substantial knowledge of and experience with the organization’s PROM system, which was embedded in the electronic health record and developed for use in clinical care but was not being used. We included surgeons whose practices consisted of at least 90% patients with osteoarthritis, including surgical and nonsurgical management, and thus their patients would be completing PROMs surveys, or surgeons who were leaders in one of the three orthopaedic divisions in the health plan. The senior research manager for orthopaedics identified 14 potential participants meeting these criteria, 11 of whom agreed to study participation. Participants included nine surgeons and two orthopaedic leaders; the majority were men, with a median of 13 years of clinical practice. Study interviews were conducted by an experienced interviewer not known to participants, in private conference rooms in the healthcare setting, and a median (range) of 27 minutes (16 to 40) in length. A content analysis approach was employed for data analysis, with thematic inductive saturation reached in the analysis and attention to trustworthiness and rigor during the analytic process.

RESULTS: Interviewees reported that PROM scores are not being used in patient clinical care because of logistical barriers, such as access and display issues and the time required, and perceptual barriers, such as concerns about patient understanding and the validity and reliability of measures. Surgeons preferred talking with patients about the personal outcomes patients had identified as important; most patients preferred to assess progress toward their own goals than PROMs scores for other people. Surgeons also identified changes that could facilitate PROM use and reduce barriers in clinical care, including pushing PROM scores to physicians’ inboxes, developing inserts for physician notes, using easy-to-understand graphical displays, and engaging patients about PROMs earlier in the care process. Participants all agreed that PROMs in aggregate use are valuable for the organization, department, and individual surgeons, but individual patient scores are not.

CONCLUSION: Despite the availability of PROMs, there are important barriers to incorporating and using PROMs in clinical care. Providing access to PROM scores without clearly understanding how and why surgeons may consider using or incorporating them into their clinical practice can result in expensive and underused systems that add little value for the clinician, patient, or organization.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Involving front-line orthopaedic surgeons and leaders in shaping the design and structure of PROM systems is important for use in clinical care, but these interviewees seemed to see aggregate data as more valuable than individual patient scores.

PMID:34846308 | DOI:10.1097/CORR.0000000000002059