Patients rely on health care professionals to make the right choices for their health. But how do they know if they're getting the care that's right for them? Imagine having chronic pain in your knee and you want to fix it. Often it's not obvious when you should take medicine and get physical therapy and when you should pursue more invasive options such as surgery. How do you know which treatment option is the best for you? And what should you expect in terms of improvement and day-to-day function after your treatment? 

That's where some new tools provided at Partners differ. Partners Care Decisions is a new website that shows interactive and easy-to-read patient reported data from Partners' patients about their recovery process from several common surgical procedures. This data not only informs patient decision-making and expectations before and after surgery, it serves as a way to track and monitor the quality and value of the care we deliver from the perspective of our patients. This week, the New England Journal of Medicine featured Partners' efforts in this area further reinforcing the importance of patient reported data in enhancing patient care. 

"At Partners, we want our patients to have better health outcomes and we want their experience to be better too," says Neil Wagle, MD, MBA Associate Chief Quality Officer of Partners Quality, Safety and Value and Center for Population Health. "Using better shared decision making tools, Patient-Reported Outcome Measures, and finding high-fidelity mechanisms to ensure that our patients receive the most appropriate care benefits both our patients and the hospital system."

The website focuses on several common conditions such as knee painspinal stenosislower urinary tract symptoms, and coronary artery disease. In each area, patient data show how soon pain severity decreases after surgical procedures or how quickly patients are able to get back to their day-to-day activities like walking the stairs or lifting grocery bags.  This data is commonly referred to as Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs).

"PROMs are really useful for showing patients what to expect after the procedure," says Jay Zampini, MD, a spinal surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital using Care Decisions. "Even if patients aren't necessarily where they expected they'd be, seeing their PROMs shows them that they’re moving in the right direction and it reinforces that they are making progress. Also, these graphs show patients how other patients at Partners recovered from surgery so it’s even more relatable and not the kind of information usually available to patients."

Hospitals regularly measure outcomes like readmissions rates, mortality rates, and length of stay in the hospital, which are important metrics, but Partners takes this a step further by internally tracking and publicly displaying data from their patients. Partners' hospitals are using this data as an internal measure of quality. "The data is reviewed by physicians and used to identify sources of variability and to discover opportunities to improve the quality and value of our care," says Sree Chaguturu, MD, Vice President, Center for Population Health at Partners HealthCare. "We believe this will help us provide high value care to all our patients."

At Partners, collecting PROMs is a key initiative in population health with over 1.2M questionnaires collected in about 80 clinics across 20 conditions. Care Decisions features a sub-selection of PROMs, but the plan is to expand these conditions over the next few years.

For more information and an in-depth look at the activities that compromise Care Decisions, click here