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How to Start Using Patient Reported Outcome Measures

Establishing a clear, attainable and measurable goal is the starting point of all successes in physiotherapy - using outcome measures can help set measurable goals. Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) have become a standard in both clinical practice and research and their use is set to rise (Smith PC et al., 2008). Traditional assessments, such as range of motion, strength and functional movements, can provide valuable information to the clinician; however, these types of assessments can fall short of adequately addressing all meaningful outcomes because they are inherently biased and may not describe a patients’ perception of their state of health. PROMs, like the Patient Specific Functional Scale (PSFS), Neck Disability Index (NDI) and Rolland-Morris Questionnaire (RMQ), have been developed to obtain quantitative data regarding general health quality, function and pain. The data from a PROM provide patient centred data and can help practitioners determine the severity of the disorder, formulate a treatment plan, and assess treatment efficacy over time (Kulnik ST et al., 2014).

In 2009, a study by Jette DU et al. found that 48% of physiotherapists use standardized outcome measures and more than 90% of those therapists believe they improve communication with patients and positively effect outcomes. While the majority recognize the potential use of PROMS for improving patient centred care, there are many barriers that therapists identify. The most commonly identified barriers are length of time to complete PROMs and length of time to analyze the data.

The majority of therapists using outcome measures are still using the traditional paper and pencil method, which is time consuming for patients and practitioners and provides little opportunity for clinics to analyze their performance.

The landscape is rich for innovation in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, and there has never in the been a time for disruption of this scale. A groundswell of entrepreneurs, startups and investors have created an ecosystem that is inspiring action in healthcare. Jones et al. state that when technology is implemented effectively, it has the potential to fundamentally change the delivery of healthcare”.

The ultimate goals of physiotherapy are to improve our patient’s quality of life, restore function and relieve symptoms. Using valid and reliable PROMs, such as the PSFS, in a thoughtful and clinically meaningful manner will help improve patient care and outcomes. Integrating clinical practice with technology applications will improve the application of such measures and can shift our profession from one who knows the impact they have on patient outcomes to the profession who shows their impact.

healthSwapp gives you the ability to use the PSFS with your patients who receive push notifications when it's time to fill out their functional goals. Watch this short video to find out how:



Maggie Bergeron, PT, Co-Founder Embodia

Maggie Bergeron PT, Co-Founder Embodia

Maggie graduated from McMaster University with a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2009 and spent the first five years of her career working in five different private clinics. Frustrated with clinic policies and constantly having to rebuild her patient caseload each time she switched clinics, Maggie decided to open her own practice in the east end of Toronto and, at the same, build a solution that would keep her connected to her patients.

Embodia was born in 2014 and since then has grown to provide digital home exercise prescription and online continuing education to more than 6000 physiotherapists globally.

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