Introducing IR patients to electronic outcome reporting increases likelihood they complete follow-up survey

After initial introduction to electronic quality-of-life (QOL) questionnaires for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and lymphedema, patients were more likely to complete the questionnaires remotely for their follow-up appointment, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“A semi-automated electronic QOL system allows physicians to collect patient outcome data even in the absence of a clinic visit,” wrote lead author Lawrence V. Hofmann, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues.

QOLs are part of patient-reported outcomes (PROs), which are important for both physician reimbursement and clinical decision making. CMS has proposed payments based on PROs, but failure to report may result in penalties. To combat penalties, an automated electronic patient reporting outcome (ePRO) system can expedite the process of data collection and consent, while eliminating the administrative burden of collecting QOL data. And best of all, patients have been shown to adapt to electronic questionnaires, making the task easier.

Hofmann and colleagues sought to evaluate the implementation of an electronic data collection system for DVT and lymphedema QOL questionnaires in a tertiary care interventional radiology (IR) practice.

Patients from a single provider’s IR clinic were automatically emailed questionnaires a week before their appointments. If they were unable to complete them via email, the questionnaire was administered on an electronic tablet in the clinic. Patients were also provided with post-procedure surveys.

A total of 102 patients completed the pre-intervention questionnaire—64 patients had procedures and 38 did not. Of the 64 patients who had procedures, 11 had not been scheduled for a post-operative appointment and did not reach the 1-year mark when the automated system emails a questionnaire.

Of the 53 patients who received questionnaires, 49 percent were seen in-person for a follow-up clinic visit. Of the in-person patients, 76 percent completed the questionnaire via email and 24 percent via tablet in clinic. Of the post-procedure patients, 51 percent were not scheduled for a follow-up clinic visit and were emailed an electronic questionnaire as a follow up—74 percent submitted the questionnaire.

On average, pre-intervention questionnaires were collected about 33 days before intervention, and postintervention questionnaires were collected 172 days after the intervention.

“In this study, patients were more receptive to completing questionnaires remotely via e-mail after being introduced to the questionnaires,” the authors wrote.

An automated system, the researchers noted, allows physicians to collect streamlined patient data in even in the absence of a clinical visit. And, physicians can also collect patient consent for research without impacting medical team workflow.

“The merit of such a system warrants future investigation and may represent a key feature of outpatient clinic workflow in this emerging era of patient-centered value-based care,” the authors concluded.