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Experts point out pitfalls of using patient reported outcomes to guide NHS care

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8133 (Published 28 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8133
  1. Rej Bhumbra
  1. 1BMJ

Experts have sounded a warning bell over the use of reports of patients’ experiences of NHS care to judge how well hospitals are performing and to decide the flow of funding.

When they were launched by the government in April 2009, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) were billed simply as a means of capturing information on how patients believed that their NHS care had benefited them. However, as the patient agenda has expanded, policy makers are looking to the data—currently collected for hip and knee replacements, groin hernia surgery, and varicose vein surgery—to assess performance of providers, commissioning, treatments, and even individual doctors, said speakers at a meeting at the healthcare think tank the King’s Fund in London on 22 November.

David Beard, director of the Orthopaedic Surgery and Interventional Trials Unit at Oxford University, is a supporter of PROMs. However, he cautioned, “As we are using patient reported outcomes more we [must] understand that …

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