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Beyond HCAHPS, Patient Surveys Dig Into Functional Outcomes

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 17, 2012

The NIH's Promis Global tool is much simpler, asking only 10 questions that perhaps more easily assess a patient's functional outcome before and after an episode of care. For example, question 7 asks: "To what extent are you able to carry out your everyday physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, carrying groceries, or moving a chair?" Such a question would be appropriate to understand both a patient's baseline activities, and compare them with activities after a procedure.

"With this tool, one could know that the patient was, for example, just like an average person who gets a joint replacement, and that after (the operation) they indicated how they felt and whether they improved," explains, Melanie P. Mastanduno, Director of Population Health Measurement for the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. "That's not something the doctor can measure."

In theory at least, the patient would be able to answer these questions "in a private and confidential way, say, through their desktop computer, an iPad or a kiosk, and not have someone hovering over them while they answered," Mastanduno says.

The history of functional outcome surveys has been "kind of like a Tower of Babel," acknowledges San Keller, NIH principal research scientist for Promis, to explain the reason such survey tools are needed. "There have been so many different investigators and sponsors of these measures over the years, some developing different measures for the same thing, they come up with different questions, different answers and with scores in different domains...One asks about severity of pain, the other frequency."

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3 comments on "Beyond HCAHPS, Patient Surveys Dig Into Functional Outcomes"


abiola olagoke (5/23/2012 at 2:56 PM)
Realising that the patient is the goal of any treatment modality, these measures being put in place are really welcome. Thanks for sharing this. I hope those of us in developing countries get to that point too where we make provider hospitals more responsible to patients and patients can say more about treatment modality outcome

Anthony_Cirillo_32556 (5/21/2012 at 8:33 PM)
Having just returned from the Assisted Living of America's annual conference, resident acuity, partnering with hospitals and positioning the industry as a transitional care provider were hot topics. This is great if providers actually collaborate and cooperate. However, there is still much silo thinking that abounds. Actual quality of life outcomes are important to measure. And outcomes will only be aided by an industry working together. I also look at this laundry list of additional reporting and wonder how providers and particularly front line staff will be able to actually care for patients and chart all of this for the bean-counters, regulators and watchdogs.

Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA (5/17/2012 at 2:00 PM)
Cheryl, Thanks for another great article. This is such an important topic and once more validates the need for more consistent, high quality post-discharge follow up.