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Utilising outcome measures into palliative care post conference blog

Dr Sam Kyeremateng, Medical Director and Clinical Lead for Programme Development reflects on our recent utilising outcome measures into palliative care conference in partnership with Hospice UK, the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's College London and the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre, University of Hull.

“We were delighted to host a further conference focusing on the impact and power of utilising patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) in palliative care.” said Sam.

“Throughout the day we shared the latest evidence supporting the use of PROMs in palliative care settings, as well as real life case presentations of how PROMs have been embedded into practice. The event also provided a unique opportunity for organisations to highlight the key challenges they are facing and to share their own innovative solutions.

It was an extremely informative and insightful day, and drew together palliative and end of life care commissioners and providers working in hospices, acute hospitals and NHS community settings from across the UK, all eager to utilise PROMs in their own areas.

Validated PROMs are integral to the measurement and improvement of care quality, service user experience and patient safety. They can facilitate more efficient detection and monitoring of symptoms, enhance clinician-patient communication, whilst empowering clinicians to act and address issues. The data gathered underpins our working practices, informs staff skill mixes and workflows, and can help us demonstrate the impact of services to stakeholders at both service and organisational levels.

Engagement of service users and staff at all levels of the workforce is essential to successfully integrate PROMs into practice. Staff need to fully understand the value of incorporating PROMs and the data gathered must be utilised in their everyday clinical practices. Providing training, sharing knowledge, addressing barriers, undertaking audits and feeding back findings is crucial to keep everyone engaged and to drive changes forward.

Embedding PROMs into practice is not without its challenges, and the time commitment to drive changes forward and investment in staff and IT infrastructure and support should not be underestimated. It is essential to develop robust and user-friendly systems, and to ensure that data collected is complete and of a high quality for it to be useful.

A key challenge being faced by many is how to effectively extract, utilise and display the information gathered, so that it can be used in a meaningful way. Developing a standard minimum dataset of palliative outcome measures is essential to enable comparison of services and care settings, as well as the establishment of a set of national and international benchmarking standards that support research and improvements in care.

Embedding PROMs into practice is not easy, but through working together and sharing our ideas, knowledge and experiences we can develop a community of practice that supports integration.”