Demonstrating the value of spine care requires adequate outcomes assessment. Long-term outcomes are best measured as overall improvement in quality of life (QOL) after surgical intervention. Present registries often require parallel data entry, introducing inefficiencies and limiting compliance. The authors detail the methodology of constructing an integrated electronic health record (EHR) system to collect QOL metrics and demonstrate the effect of data collection on routine clinical workflow. A streamlined approach to collecting QOL data can capture patient data without requiring dual data entry and without increasing clinic visit times.Through extensive literature review, a combination of QOL assessments was selected, consisting of the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and -9, Oswestry Disability Index, Neck Disability Index, and visual analog scale for pain. These metrics were used to provide assessment of QOL following spine surgery and were incorporated into standard clinic workflow by a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, advanced practice providers, and health care information technology specialists. A clinical dashboard tracking more than 25 patient variables was developed. Clinic flow was assessed and opportunities for improvement reviewed. Duration of clinic visits before and after initiation of QOL measure capture was recorded, with assessment of mean clinic visit times for the 12 months before and the 12 months after implementation.The integrated QOL capture was instituted for 3 spine surgeons in a tertiary care academic center. In the 12-month period prior to initiating collection of QOL data, 806 new patient visits were completed with an average visit time of 127.9 ± 51.5 minutes. In the 12 months after implementation, 1013 new patient visits were recorded, with 791 providing QOL measures with an average visit time of 117.0 ± 45.7 minutes. Initially the primary means of collecting patient outcome data was via paper form, with gradual transition to collection via entry into the electronic medical records system. To improve electronic data capture, paper forms were eliminated and an online portal used as part of the patient rooming process. This improved electronic capture to nearly 98% without decreasing the number of patients enrolled in the process.A systematic approach to collecting spine-related QOL data within an EHR system is feasible and offers distinct advantages over registries that require dual data entry. The process of data collection does not impact patients' clinical visit or providers' clinical workflow. This approach is scalable, and may form the foundation for a decentralized outcomes registry network.
View details for DOI 10.3171/2015.3.SPINE141127
View details for Web of Science ID 000367028000022
View details for PubMedID 26431073