Physical Therapy Outcomes Tracking Tools | Making Results Count
That the core mission of physical therapists is to care for patients and improve outcomes may sound like stating the obvious. But the best way to track outcomes and measure results may not be that obvious. Outcomes tracking has become a science today and like any other science it would require careful attention to detail along with the right tools and processes. The idea is to enable physical therapists to improve patient care and demonstrate clinical performance to payers, patients, and referral sources through patient data collection and industry standard reports.
Need for Outcomes TrackingIn the past, PT clinics have relied on individual patient level improvement data to establish and prove value of care to patients and payers alike. However, this approach failed to evaluate effectiveness of individual activities and treatments when measuring patients? end results. With today?s outcomes tracking tools, it has become much easier to track outcomes both at the individual patient level and in aggregate and benchmark results against other clinicians across the country using thousands of data points. Outcomes tracking measures the impact that a physical therapy plan of care has on each patient. After adjusting for factors like age, weight, sex, height, and overall health, the data helps therapists detect trends, measure true cost of care, and monitor patient satisfaction. There are three kinds of outcomes, broadly speaking.
Clinical/Functional OutcomesFirst off, there are the clinical and functional outcomes like range of motion, strength, functional activities, and ability to carry out simple tasks.
Operational OutcomesThese are the measures that signal how efficiently are the internal operations run namely operational outcomes that include appointment scheduling efficiencies, compliance levels, documentation of care, and tracking of insurance authorizations.
Patient Engagement and SatisfactionThese measures measure patient engagement and patient satisfaction based on results delivered for patients so that they turn into loyal advocates and fans for the clinic.
The focus of this blog is primarily on clinical/functional outcomes. Implementing outcomes tracking calls for integrating data about patients? functional improvements into daily clinical workflows. This has been somewhat challenging in the past. Therapists are indeed very busy, patients say it takes too much time, and the front desk finds it challenging to take on extra work. More than 50% of clinicians who responded to a 2019 APTA survey indicated they capture patient reported outcomes data via paper forms that are often cumbersome and inaccurate. That is where physical therapy outcomes tracking tools like Foto come in with Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT). The term refers to a method of scoring and collecting patient reported outcomes data in which the computer customizes physical activity questions for each patient by matching the question to the patient?s ability. By minimizing the number of assessment questions without increasing measurement error, the outcomes tracking process is made easier for both patients and therapists. Factors like age, appearance, comorbidities and other factors should go into classifying or categorizing therapy patients. Judging the quality of care is not an apples to apples comparison. Risk adjustment helps by controlling for complicating factors ? such as age, weight, litigation, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease ? in order to generate accurate, risk-adjusted comparisons.