NIH $6.3M Grant Supports Integrating Patient-Reported Outcomes into EHRs

Nov. 3, 2016
Chicago-based Northwestern University is leading a consortium of universities to integrate patient-reported outcomes into electronic health records (EHRs) with support from a $6.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Chicago-based Northwestern University is leading a consortium of universities to integrate patient-reported outcomes into electronic health records (EHRs) with support from a $6.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The $6.3 million grant to accelerate the use of patient reported outcomes in research and clinical care has been awarded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the NIH to a coalition of nine universities.

The multi-site grant, awarded to Northwestern, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Kentucky, University of Florida, University of Utah, Harvard Catalyst CTS and Southern California CTSI, is funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program of Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute. Cerner and Epic have signed onto the project as integration collaborators.

“We are very excited to see this multi-institutional project take off,” Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., director of the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. “This approach to direct, efficient acquisition and integration of patient-reported information represents the future of patient care and medical research, and this project paves the way to that future.”

The project, EHR Access to Seamless Integration of PROMIS (EASI-PRO), will make it easier for researchers and clinicians to collect patient reported outcomes information and use it to improve clinical care and research, according to a Northwestern University press release. The Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS), a computerized survey tool that adapts to each patient’s unique answers, will be integrated into the patient’s EHR along with their medical information. By only asking the most relevant questions, PROMIS has the potential to make the surveys up to 10 times shorter, so it is less of a burden on those taking it, the university says.

“Patient-reported outcomes surveys ask patients questions about their physical, mental and social health. By comparing an individual’s medical information and their survey responses, health care providers and researchers can see how clinical care is impacting the health of patients. Studies have shown that patient-reported outcomes surveys are one of the best ways to improve health care quality and increase the impact of research,” the Northwestern press release stated.

PROMIS has already been integrated into the Northwestern Medicine EHR and now the EASI-PRO team is building software that will integrate PROMIS with a large number of EHRs including Cerner and Epic. This will enable health care systems across the country to be able to administer the same surveys and compare results.

“Our experience integrating the PROMIS tools into the EHR at Northwestern has convinced us that tight workflow integration of PROs into the clinical workflow brings many benefits to both quality and clinical research projects,” Justin Starren, director of the Center for Data Science and Informatics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and principal investigator of EASI-PRO, said in a statement.

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