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Integration of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in the Electronic Health Record: The Veterans Affairs Experience.

Friedman DR, Patil V, Li C, Rassmussen KM, Burningham Z, Hamilton-Hill S, Kelley MJ, Halwani AS. Integration of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in the Electronic Health Record: The Veterans Affairs Experience. JCO clinical cancer informatics. 2022 Feb 1; 6:e2100086.

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PURPOSE: There are growing efforts to integrate patient-reported outcome (PRO) data into electronic health records (EHRs) to bring together disparate sources of patient information and improve medical care. PRO measures can be used to assess cancer symptom presence and severity. Integrating PRO tools in EHRs can alert providers to address symptoms, which is an essential component of comprehensive oncology care. METHODS: We modified a PRO used to measure cancer and end-of-life symptoms, the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System to create the Veteran Symptom Assessment System (VSAS). VSAS was implemented as an integrated PRO as part of the Veterans Administration EHR system and was used at hematology-oncology clinics in Veteran Administration (VA) medical centers in the Southeast. RESULTS: From 2013 to 2014, VSAS was introduced, underwent usability testing and modifications, and was finally implemented in the EHR. Between 2015 and 2019, VSAS was administered 43,883 times in 9,058 patients. Eighty-nine percent of Veterans were male, 11% were female, 52% identified as non-Hispanic White, and 43% identified as African American. Fatigue, shortness of breath with exertion, and pain were most frequently reported initially (68%, 48%, and 45%, respectively) and were most frequently rated as severe (27%, 16%, and 17%, respectively). In patients diagnosed with stage IV cancer, higher symptom burden was significantly associated with shorter overall survival. The majority of Veterans with longitudinal measurements experienced improvement in symptoms, most frequently in severe symptoms. CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale implementation of a PRO system, integrated in the VA EHR, in ambulatory patients with cancer and blood disorders. The integration of VSAS within the VA EHR is a significant demonstration and a necessary requirement for current and future systemic initiatives in cancer symptom management.

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