Patient Reported Outcomes

By Charles Gerson, M.D.

There is a new trend in patient care. It is called Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) which means that patients track their own illness. Studies have indicated that if patients maintain a record of various aspects of their illness on a regular basis, their illness experience becomes clearer and they are better able to collaborate with their physicians. PRO is usually conducted with questionnaires which can be computerized for access at home.

At the Mind-Body Digestive Center, we have adapted the PRO concept for patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We are looking at whether symptoms improve, what emotional factors might worsen symptoms, and how IBS effects life experience. At the patient’s initial visit to our Center, patients log into their own secure site, and complete a series of questionnaires. Two of them are brief questionnaires, one regarding IBS symptom severity and the other measuring psychosocial issues, that are repeated by them at home every few weeks.

Results are summed and placed on a graph that is displayed at the time of the next office visit. Patients may be surprised by how much their symptoms have, in fact, improved even though a recent flare-up was discouraging. And we hope to look at how each individual’s quality of emotional life is connected to symptom patterns.

PRO can improve the physician-patient relationship by reducing its usual hierarchy. Who knows better than the patient how they are feeling on a day-to-day basis?