Patient Data Collection Tips
Before a practice sets out to collect patient information, it must take a host of factors into account, said Eric Ruderman, MD, associate chief for clinical affairs in rheumatology at Northwestern University in Chicago. If you’re trying to collect information for use in clinical care, physician engagement is one of the most important considerations, he said. It must be a feasible endeavor, and even if it’s only a brief time commitment, its value must be clear to the clinician.
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Explore This IssueFebruary 2019
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“Though four minutes isn’t a very long period of time, when you have a 20-minute office visit, that’s a big chunk of that office visit,” Dr. Ruderman said. “And if you’re going to disrupt the clinic flow in any way, you’ve got to persuade your providers … the data you’re collecting is meaningful.”
He also emphasized these factors:
- Limit data-collection effort—“You need to reduce the burden on patient and on staff” as much as possible.
- Determine the extent of the data you want to collect—Limit the complexity of the instruments to what is really necessary, because patients must be willing to participate. Will every patient have data collected every visit? Less often? Only RA patients? Only lupus patients? “We have addressed that in our practice by limiting the number of instruments we use and collecting it on every patient, every visit,” Dr. Ruderman said. “And then if the physician doesn’t find it helpful, it’s extra information. If they do, it’s useful.”
- Make it understandable—He noted the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3) disease activity index is used widely because it is simple and easy to understand. But however the data is presented, it must be concise and easy to use in a busy environment.
- Consider the clinic flow—When should the data be collected? If a patient shows up just a minute or two before their appointment time, there probably won’t be enough time to collect their data without delaying the physician. If it’s collected too far ahead of time, it may not be considered truly real-time data useful at a visit. The same is true if it’s collected afterward. There is no clear answer, Dr. Ruderman said.
- Monitor the process—Someone in the office must make sure the data collection is happening. This will involve reminding patients to fill out the questionnaire, collecting the information and then bringing it to the physician.
“At the end of the day, integrating all of this is the key piece,” Dr. Ruderman said, “to try to make sure it all goes in one place, so that … in practice, you can use it.”