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User-Friendly Apps to Advance the Use of Standardized Patient-Reported Outcomes

User-Friendly Apps to Advance the Use of Standardized Patient-Reported Outcomes

Using mobile applications developed with standards allows for smoother integration of PRO data into EHRs and will increase the use of PROs for clinical care, patient self-management, and health services research.

Getting right to the source: using patient-reported outcomes

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) provide the critical patient perspective for many aspects of healthcare. Their use facilitates shared decision making between providers and patients in a clinical setting, supports self-management for patients, and informs patient-centered outcomes research within the healthcare field. Despite their importance, PROs are not collected routinely. One promising solution to increasing use of PROs may be via mobile applications (apps) developed with standards, which could allow for smoother integration of that data into electronic health records (EHRs) or other health information technology systems. As the Scientific Director for Health Equity Research at the MedStar Health Research Institute, Dr. Deliya Wesley and her research team wanted to understand how digital solutions can facilitate PROs integration into practice for clinical use and improve outcomes for all patients.

Setting the technical architecture

Dr. Wesley and her team created an efficient technical architecture to seamlessly integrate PRO data into EHRs using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards. This research supported the development of standards for electronic applications that collect PRO measures across health providers and systems. The researchers modified and pilot tested an existing app to collect and integrate standardized PRO physical function data into different EHRs, using the newly developed FHIR standards. The team also pilot tested an app that allows patients to complete a set of person-centered measures to support monitoring of their physical, mental, and social health to continue patient engagement with providers outside of a clinical setting.

We now have these standards; that means when the apps are collecting [PRO] data, it is all in a standard format, encoded the same way, and can be pushed into different EHRs in real time in the same meaningful way, whether it was app A, app B, or app C.”
-Dr. Wesley

Testing in the real world

Lessons learned in this research include the importance of testing in the "real world" to fully understand local implementation of apps. The research team found that PROs collected through user-friendly and standardized apps can successfully be integrated into different EHRs using interoperable standards. These research findings show that standardized apps, which collect PRO data, can be successfully adopted across healthcare systems, with the ability to improve systemwide comparisons of health outcomes and population health monitoring.