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Explore This IssueOctober 2007
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Effect on Patient Interaction and Treatment
Overall, outcomes measures appear to improve patient treatment, as well as the efficiency of clinical practice, according to experts.
Dr. Fraser says that assessing an individual’s DAS data helps him determine whether the patient is responding to a medication and if treatment should be altered.
“For [overall] trends, what I’ve seen using DAS is a general reduction in measurements when patients are taking biologics,” he says. Because data have indicated such an improvement, he adds biologics earlier to the treatment regimen.
Outcomes measures also make the patient visit more efficient, says Dr. Bergman. Specifically, the RAPID assessment enables him to quickly determine whether or not a patient is experiencing pain or having trouble with joint function.
Dr. Harrington notes that, by standardizing the data set and having the patient self-generate information that becomes part of clinical record, his practice saves about 40% of previous traditional patient visit time. “This is time that can be spent discussing important problems and treatment or doing other work,” he says. Additionally, having a standard data template saves about 40% of dictation time.
Despite some of the challenges inherent in collecting data, “the impacts on our practice and patient care are greater than we imagined,” concludes Dr. Harrington.
Heather Lindsey is a medical journalist based in New York City.