Good healthcare outcomes are not just about treatments being clinically successful. Good outcomes also include having symptoms managed, being able to do things you ordinarily would, and minimising the impacts of health conditions and treatments on other parts of your life.
Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) help healthcare providers and the health system learn about health outcomes that matter to patients. PROMs are questionnaires that ask for information about health outcomes from the patient’s perspective. Some PROMs ask about things only patients can know such as their level of pain or psychological distress, while others ask about things that other people could observe such as walking ability. Although the “P” in PROMs stands for “patients”, anyone receiving health care can complete these questionnaires. In some cases, a carer or a nominated support person may also complete a PROM.
Why are you being asked to complete a PROM?
You may be asked to complete a PROM for a number of reasons. Your healthcare provider may want to know more about how your health condition and treatment is affecting you. For example, they may want to know about your symptoms or the extent you can do the things you usually do. They may also want to measure these things over time to see if a treatment has been successful for you. Completing a questionnaire provides a systematic way to do this and supports healthcare providers to meet your individual needs.
At other times, your responses to a PROM may be combined with those of other patients. Responses from many patients can be used for:
- Finding out what treatments work better than others
- Improving healthcare services
- Monitoring efforts to enhance the care patients receive.
Your healthcare professionals should always tell you how they will use the responses you provide.
How can PROMs help you?
'I’ve always believed that the real value of patient-reported outcomes is that they can spark the right conversation between patient and clinician. They’re a snapshot. I see their usefulness mostly in terms of screening and being able to identify where there may be some problems that were below the surface.'
International PROMs Expert - Stakeholder interviews
Enhancing communication between you and your healthcare provider
We know that PROMs can enhance communication between patients and healthcare professionals. Your responses to PROMs questions can spark conversations about the problems you may be facing in relation to your health condition and the treatment you are receiving. Completing a PROM can make it easier for you to raise issues with your healthcare professionals.
Tracking your progress
You may be asked to respond to the same PROM several times during your care. Responding to the questions on multiple occasions allows your progress to be tracked. You may like to see how you are progressing over time and how your outcomes compare with those of other patients. These comparisons can help you and your healthcare professionals decide whether changes to your treatment may be required.
Helping you to make informed decisions about treatment
Sometimes information from PROMs is available from many patients who have the same health condition as you and have undergone the treatments you are considering. Information from other patients may help you understand what improvements you might reasonably expect from a treatment and how likely they may be in your circumstances. In discussions with your healthcare professionals, information from other patients could help you to make an informed choice about treatment.