“If people want feedback, it’s now really easy to get,” Prof Andreas Obermair (pictured) remarks, referring to the focus of his project for which he was awarded a grant by the Avant Foundation.
It was the lack of access to information which inspired longstanding Director at the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, Prof Obermair, to pilot a Patient Reported Outcome Measure (PROMS) add-on for SurgicalPerformance* in his practice.
You don’t know, if you don’t ask
“Capturing the patient experience has a huge impact on doctors and patients because ‘what can I expect after surgery?’ is one of the most relevant questions for them. Unfortunately, no-one can answer truthfully because we didnt capture this information,” Prof Obermair says.
The PROMS tool communicates directly with patients via text message in the early days following surgery, after discharge from hospital.
Prof Obermair explains, “The PROMS module sends a handful of questions at three time points automatically to patients, they answer the questions and the results are available for the SurgicalPerformance user to see: Is my patient pain free? Does my patient complain about nausea? Is my patient able to perform basic everyday activities?”.
He is keen to point out this is not a tool for governments or health insurers to police or to monitor doctors. Benchmarking is completely anonymous, the information in the database is protected and strictly confidential.
Meaningful answers for patients and doctors
This seemingly simple intervention, Prof Obermair says, greatly enhances the patient experience by providing meaningful answers. “We can now say that on average, patients will be pain-free after this many days. And after an average of – let’s say seven days – virtually all patients can dress themselves”.
Asking for patient feedback has been invaluable for his own practice where he has already implemented changes based on patients’ responses.
“We discovered that patients in one particular hospital were reporting higher levels of pain following surgery. I found out that patients discharged from this hospital on Saturday or Sunday didn’t receive their pain medication because of an issue with the pharmacy. If I didn’t know this, I would not have been able to rectify the issue.”
“This is the first time a platform provides surgeons access to this kind of data on a large scale, so they can see how patients progress postoperatively after their discharge from hospital. We’re proud to support this project, which fills an essential gap in terms of how we record the patient experience,” comments Dr Penny Browne, Chair of the Avant Foundation Board.
Visit surgicalperformance.com for more information.
*SurgicalPerformance is an online database which allows surgeon subscribers to compare their procedure-specific outcomes with their colleagues.
This article was originally published in Connect magazine Issue no. 13.