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Posts Tagged ‘care delivery’

Collecting Patient-Reported Outcomes

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

More healthcare organizations are searching for ways to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. As the many in the industry are experimenting with value-based healthcare models, payers and providers need a way to measure the quality of care received to determine efficacy and provider reimbursement rates. Collecting patient-reported outcomes is one way to measure patients’ quality of care.


What is a Patient-Reported Outcome?

A patient-reported outcome (PRO) is any report of a patient’s health condition or status relating to symptoms, functionality, mental, social, and physical health from the patient’s perspective without an external interpretation by a healthcare professional.

Patient-reported health outcomes can relate to general health measures or the management of a chronic condition.

One possible application is following up with cancer patients after chemotherapy treatments. Within a few days of an infusion, a healthcare provider could send a survey to follow up on patient symptoms and responses to treatment. The patient (or caregiver) could complete the survey online. Then, the clinician can easily adjust their care plan depending on the responses. For example, suppose the chemotherapy triggers nausea, making it difficult for the patient to eat. In that case, the clinician could call in a prescription to help alleviate that symptom before the patient becomes dehydrated or malnourished and needs more intensive medical care.

Making it as easy as possible for patients to complete surveys is crucial to collecting patient-reported outcomes.

How to Measure Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires and surveys that capture information about a patient’s health status and treatment goals. The surveys measure health at a single time and over a long period.

Studies have shown that collecting PROMs can result in an increased overall survival rate, improved quality of life, decreased emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. Collecting PROMs is not challenging to do and improves clinical outcomes.

How to Obtain Patient-Reported Outcomes?

It’s essential to have clear goals and KPIs when setting out to measure patient outcomes. Identifying clear goals will help providers design surveys that deliver relevant data. Asking too many questions can create an avalanche of irrelevant information and are less likely to be completed by patients. Instead, it’s essential to design short surveys that are easy for the patient to understand. Surveys that are easy to answer will yield the highest number of responses.

In addition, the survey delivery method matters. Administration can happen in many ways: mail, web/email, telephone, or even onsite. Patients should be presented with surveys in the methods that match their pre-stated preferences.

Administering questionnaires through the mail can be costly. Putting together a mailing requires administrative resources to collect patient addresses, send the questionnaires, monitor responses, and follow up on undeliverable mail. Telephone surveys create a similar administrative burden. They require staff to gather and verify patient phone numbers, call to administer the surveys and follow up with dropped, lost, or missed calls. All survey information must then be entered into a patient’s health record and reviewed by their healthcare provider before changes to their treatment plan can occur. This delay may make the survey data irrelevant.

Web-based or email questionnaires are often a better alternative. Email automation can trigger surveys at certain recovery milestones to reduce administrative burdens. Digitizing survey forms makes reviewing and syncing data with electronic health records easier. This allows providers to adjust care plans in response to patient needs quickly.

Benefits of Patient-Reported Outcomes

The primary goal of collecting patient-reported outcomes is to improve the patient’s health. PROMs allow healthcare providers to follow up with patients to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency visits, and readmissions.

By collecting PROMs, hospitals can increase capacity and reduce costs. A KLAS research report found that digital health monitoring programs reduced the number of emergency department visits by 25%, with a 38% reduction in hospital admissions, corresponding to a 17% decrease in costs.

Using patient-reported outcome measures can help healthcare systems administrators reach the quadruple aim of improving patient experiences and population health, reducing costs, and improving the experience of healthcare workers. Please contact us to learn more about how LuxSci can help collect patient-reported outcomes with our Secure Forms and Secure High Volume Email solutions.

Increasing Access to Mental Health Care with Digital Technology

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The pandemic sharply increased the demand for behavioral health services, and digital solutions proved to be a popular solution. This article explores changing consumer preferences and how care delivery organizations can use digital technology to support patients seeking mental health care.

digital mental health care

Demand for Digital Mental Health Care is Increasing

The demand for mental health care services has grown drastically over the past three years. According to Kaiser Family Foundation data, outpatient visits related to mental health or substance use diagnoses increased from 11 percent in 2019 to 39 percent in 2021.

In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration loosened regulations on mental health applications so that people would not have to go without support during the difficult early days of the pandemic. This decision allowed for rapid growth in direct-to-consumer mental health treatment through apps like Headspace and BetterHelp. As a result, venture capital firms invested more than $2.4 billion in digital behavioral health apps in 2020- more than twice the amount invested in 2019.

As the public health emergency will likely wind down this year, organizations must figure out how to continue to meet consumers’ preferences for mental health care. Many consumers prefer the convenience and privacy that digital alternatives offer.

Why Use Digital Alternatives

Although people first turned to digital alternatives out of necessity, it is clear that many patients now prefer digital alternatives. Mental health care is particularly suited to digital treatments, as physical examinations are often not required for diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, digital alternatives can help limit stigma and reduce stress. Accessing care at home means that running into neighbors in the waiting room is physically impossible. Digital options offer privacy and discretion. People can access care without worrying that someone will find out about it.

Even better, patients can access digital mental health care at almost any time and location. This increases access to care for people with demanding work and family schedules, limited transportation, and other reasons they cannot come into a traditional medical office during regular office hours. An internet connection is all that is needed to talk to a mental health professional.

Finally, digital alternatives enable individuals who are members of underserved groups to connect with mental health professionals who understand their experiences. For example, removing geographic restrictions can allow an LGBT person to meet with a therapist who accepts their identity and has experience working with individuals of different gender and sexual identities. Increasing patient satisfaction leads to better health outcomes.

Barriers to Digital Mental Health Care

A report from athenahealth found that even though there is a growing demand for mental health services, many adults still do not have access to the care they want and need.

High-speed broadband access is still not widespread or affordable enough to support digital health options for many individuals living in rural areas. Federal and state governments are working with internet service providers on solutions, but it remains an issue for rural and poorer patient populations.

People are also concerned about the cost of mental health treatment and possible insurance issues. Many insurance plans do not cover mental health treatment. High out-of-pocket health costs can lead people to postpone or avoid care, producing poorer health outcomes and raising overall healthcare spending.

Mental health stigma is also a barrier to care. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of the athenahealth survey respondents reported feeling judgment from family members when talking about mental health. Removing cultural barriers to treatment is a complex issue that needs to be addressed to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need.


Digital mental health care is likely here to stay. For mental health professionals offering telehealth and digital care, remember to use secure communications. As the FDA re-instates regulations, insecure texting, email, and video will no longer be secure enough for patient communications. Contact LuxSci today if you want to learn more about protecting digital mental health care communications.