Texas became the first legislature to pass a bill related to patient reported outcomes (PROs) for musculoskeletal care through SB 55, which was introduced by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and Representative JD Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville). Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 15, 2017.
SB 55 directs the two of the state’s employee health plans – Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) and Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) – to examine PRO registries and determine whether they could enhance outcomes for musculoskeletal services.
Both commercial and government health plans have introduced a number of initiatives that measure providers’ quality and costs. Nearly all of the measurements introduced have only focused on costs of the services provided and clinical endpoints (survival rates and complications), the adoption of electronic health records, process measures, and patient experience measures.
These data elements are fairly easy to collect. However, they provide an incomplete picture of a treatment’s effectiveness because they do not measure the impact of care from a patient’s perspective on their pain, function, and quality of life.
Patient Reported Outcomes: “The Right Treatment for the Right Patient at the Right Time”
Patient reported outcomes (PROs) were originally developed for controlled research studies to develop evidence-based practices. Today, physicians are relying on PROs to ensure that they are providing interventions likely to result in the best outcomes for patients.
PROs enable physicians to track whether their services are having a desired impact on a patient’s pain, function, and quality of life. This is achieved by collecting patient-reported data through simple survey questionnaires that measure pain, function, and quality of life before and after treatment.
The data are deposited into a repository, such as a registry, that contains a wealth of data. Ultimately, the registry can serve as a valuable tool for physicians to determine whether their treatment strategies are successful.