February 1, 2010
J. H. Wasson and N. J. Baker, “Balanced Measures for Patient-Centered Care,” Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, Jan.–March 2009 32(1):44–55.
If health care providers want to deliver patient-centered care, they must include the patient’s voice in their measurement and improvement processes. Yet patient-reported measures are not as widely used as process-of-care or outcome measures. Furthermore, the measures that are used report on patients’ satisfaction long after their care has been received. Many health care professionals view patient reports as “soft” data and thus less valuable than process or outcome measures. Moreover, many patient reports provide general information (for example, whether a patient would recommend a physician) rather than specific feedback. The authors of a Commonwealth Fund–supported article published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management
propose ways to include meaningful patient measures at the point of care. They describe tools to elicit information from patients and guide improvement efforts.
For example, one online tool, HowsYourHealth.org, allows patients to identify health issues of concern to them and receive feedback tailored to their needs. Practices can ask patients to complete this survey before a scheduled visit. “It is time to use patient-reported measures and tools in a concerted fashion to help determine how best to redesign care systems and sequence changes to lead to improved quality of care,” the authors argue. “Traditional bioclinical measures alone are not likely to get us there.”