What are PROMs and how do they improve care?

Before and after surgery, Medbelle asks patients to fill out simple PROMs questionnaires. This feedback can help improve healthcare, predict population risk factors, and guide surgeons

##What are PROMs## and how do they improve care?

We’ve all got quite used to rating the services we pay for, whether that’s taxi rides or food delivery. So it might be hard to believe that for many medical procedures, very little patient feedback is collected. Medbelle is working to change that with its PROMs project.

PROMs stands for Patient Recorded Outcome Measures, and that’s exactly what it is: patients record their experience both before and after a procedure, giving an idea of its impact.

Simple questions such as how satisfied the patient is with their procedure and surgeon, and how they are feeling both before and after the procedure can give an idea of what is working well and where improvements might be made.

Woman with baby at computer

The benefits are easy to see. So why is this not already happening? In some cases it is - the NHS carries out outcome tracking, for example. But in the private sector it is more complicated, as Max Pelz, who is in charge of collecting and analysing this information for Medbelle, explains.

‘Because private healthcare is so fragmented, with different clinicians or providers responsible for different stages in the patient’s journey, it is difficult to track outcomes across that journey,’ said Max.

This means that an individual clinician may see the immediate results of their own care, but will not know how much impact has happened at six months, or how various post-operative interventions have helped with recovery.

Developed by academics

While there is some outcome tracking for things like orthopaedic treatments in the NHS, there is very little for private orthopaedic treatments, and almost none at all for cosmetic treatments, which are not available on the NHS.

This is where Medbelle’s PROMs project can really help. Max said: ‘Because Medbelle supports patients across the entire care journey, bringing together a fragmented system, we have the opportunity to see the big picture and analyse the impacts of different treatments and population risk factors.’

The questionnaires used have been developed independently by academics, for example, the Oxford Hip and Knee questionnaire, which is very widely used. Given the large number of procedures offered by Medbelle, the process of researching and selecting the most suitable questionnaire for each procedure was a major part of the project.

Max

'Because Medbelle supports patients across the entire care journey, bringing together a fragmented system, we have the opportunity to see the big picture and analyse the impacts of different treatments and population risk factors'

Transparency is key

Transparency is a key part of Medbelle’s mission, and the information can be used to inform patients about the hospitals and surgeons that are best suited to them. In turn, the hospitals and surgeons then benefit from their good performance. Of course, all data is used in line with UK data protection laws.

The PROMs project is still in its early stages, so every single piece of patient feedback is important. The more information gathered the more accurate the analysis can be, and the greater the opportunity for improvements.

Even so, some of the information is already being put to positive use, in the form of Medbelle’s surgeon dashboard. Surgeons using Medbelle’s operating system are able to see a summary of their ratings in various areas, allowing them to constantly improve.

How you can help

If you’re a Medbelle patient, you can benefit from the PROMs project and you can also play a vital role in its success. Your Patient Care Adviser will ask you to fill out a simple questionnaire before your procedure, and then another one six months after the procedure. The six months wait gives enough time for patients to recover and develop a settled view on how their procedure went, and how they feel as a result.

Max said: ‘PROMs is a good example of how we aim to combine technology with a patient-centered approach to improve healthcare. Technology on its own can only do so much - we need to always think about patients, and without their feedback none of this would be possible.’

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