Speaker: O&P practitioners should increase use of outcome measures

CHICAGO — According to a presenter at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium, 38% of O&P practitioners use outcome measures in their practice and this figure needs to be increased.

In a session focused on improving care through the use of smart data, Brian J. Hafner, PhD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said outcome measures can have multiple benefits for both patients and practitioners.

Brian J. Hafner

“I think we are transitioning to a new kind of practice where a patient comes, enters a clinic and you begin by talking with that patient as you normally would, but then you hand them a survey to characterize or measure the problems they have had over the last several months,” Hafner said. “You might use the results of that survey to conduct a performance-based test to better define their condition and to collectively use that information to make your decision. This is what I call care that is not only experience-informed, but also data-informed.”

For patients, the benefits of outcome measures can include an improved ability to assess status, identify areas of concern, show change and set goals. For practitioners, outcome measures allow for improved documentation, enhanced professional communications and a better way to justify treatments and interventions.

According to Hafner, the benefits can also affect practices, as outcome measures can be used to enhance marketing efforts, improve the quality of services and evaluate practitioners. Outcome measures can also help improve the entire profession through elevated practice standards and better access, and more widely available evidence of efficacy.

“We are beginning to generate the evidence that is necessary to move practice forward,” Hafner said.

Still, hurdles remain regarding the use of outcome measures in O&P. According to Hafner, practitioners cite increased paperwork and patient burden, a lack of financial compensation and support, language barriers and loss of autonomy as some reasons practices do not use outcome measures.

To address those challenges, Hafner said O&P practices need to focus on motivation and training, as well as take the time and effort necessary to implement use. Practitioners who recognize the benefits of outcome measures should assess their knowledge about these measures, seek out training opportunities and make changes as needed. Once implemented, practitioners should learn how to use results, share these with their colleagues and discuss results with patients.

“It is clear we are in an era of change. Standards and practices are changing,” Hafner said. “We now need evidence to support all the things that we do. It is not a matter of being voluntary anymore. It is going to be required. I think we have the tools, we have the education, we have the opportunity now to collect this information; but I think we also have a responsibility to do it, too.” – by Jason Laday


Hafner BJ. Using Outcomes to Enhance O&P Patient-Centered Care. Presented at: American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium; March 1-4, 2017; Chicago.

Disclosure: Hafner reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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