New patient data has the power to transform health care management, says new report published today

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One year on from the NHS becoming the first national health system in the world to routinely collect patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), a new report highlights the potential for PROMs to transform the funding and management of health care.

Getting the most out of PROMs, published today by The King's Fund and Office of Health Economics, is a guide for clinicians, commissioners, managers and others describing how to use data based on patient reports of their health-related quality of life and the benefits of doing so.

The report examines how primary care trusts can strengthen their commissioning by using PROMs to assess value for money. It also shows how clinical teams can benchmark and improve their performance – vital to improving productivity during the tougher financial times ahead.

John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund and one of the report's authors, said:

'Measuring improvements in patient health can address key questions about productivity and performance in the NHS – for the first time we have patients' own assessments of their health before and after treatment – and by implication the quality of care they received from the NHS. It goes way beyond asking about satisfaction or experience and gets to the heart of what the NHS is in business to do: improve patients' health.

'PROMs have been used for years in clinical trials and most recently by Bupa to evaluate quality of care. However, if PROMs are really going to work within our health service, NHS leaders must start to engage both staff and patients in understanding and acting on the results of these new data.'

The report also provides an overview of the way in which PROMs data might be used to inform patient choice and help people decide what treatment is best for them and where to receive it.

Nancy Devlin, director of research at the Office of Health Economics, said:

'The PROMs initiative is a truly remarkable development for the NHS – and a first internationally. The NHS will be the first health care system in the world to measure what it produces in terms of health, rather than in terms of the production of health care. The intention is that, in addition to clinical measures of outcome, PROMs will enable patient perspectives to be taken into account in key aspects of the NHS.'

'The PROMs programme will put patients' views about health at the heart of NHS decision-making.'

Read the report: Getting the most out of PROMS: Putting health outcomes at the heart of NHS decision-making

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs team on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2603. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.
  3. The Office of Health Economics provides independent research, advisory and  consultancy services on policy and economics issues within the pharmaceutical, health care and biotechnology sectors. Its main areas of focus are: the economics of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, the financing, organisation and performance of health care systems, and the economics of health technology assessment. Our research programme is supported by a wide range of funding, including grants from the Association of the British  Pharmaceutical Industry, the Medical Research Council, Department of Health Policy Research Programme, NIHR, the Euroquol Foundation; and the Gates Foundation.
  4. A patient-reported outcome measure is a series of questions that are asked of patients to gauge their views about their own health after surgery. The purpose of PROMs is to get patients’ own assessment of their health and health-related quality of life – they don’t ask about patients’ satisfaction with or experience of health services, or seek their opinions about how successful their treatment was.
  5. In April 2009 the NHS became the first health system in the world to routinely collect patient-reported outcome measures. The NHS Standard Contract makes it a requirement that the monthly clinical quality performance report should include patient-reported outcome data for four areas – operations on hips, knees, hernias and varicose veins. Together, those four procedures have an annual cost of £0.8billion to the NHS in England. 250,000 patients will be invited to complete before-and-after surgery questionnaires each year. Data collection efforts are aiming to achieve an 80 per cent response rate from patients.