Electronic patient reported outcome (ePRO) is patient provided information collected through an electronic medium. This includes data about symptoms, drug dosage, side-effects and other information during a clinical trial or patient registry type of study. Due to their increased reliability, many organizations are now shifting from traditional pen and paper to electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO).
Pros of ePROs
The first benefit that extends to healthcare workers and centers is that electronic patient reported outcomes are much more economical than paper based information data collection. According to research, the cost of a paper based questionnaire that included printing, data entry and mailing amounted to roughly 9.94 per subject. In comparison, the cost of a web based tool was just 3% of the paper version’s cost.
This research is evidence enough to support the argument that digital data collection is much simpler, less hassle-free and cheaper in terms of HR costs. Since the need for manual power is reduced, the job can be done by one person with online tools vs multiple healthcare workers.
According to research, there have been significantly lower cases that reported missing data collected via electronic health records in comparison to paper data collection methods. With paper based data collection, there is an increased risk of human error like incorrect values and missing information.
Research shows that electronic questionnaires had a mean value of 0.55 percent of missing answers per person, while paper questionnaires showed a mean value of 2.15 percent of missing answers per person. Similarly, mean number of unanswered questions was also higher in paper data records than electronic ones. As a result, it is safe to conclude that ePROs have higher data quality.
Cons of ePROs
Electronic data collection can be hampered by technical issues and glitches, which are reported to have been a common occurrence. Patients report login problems and other technical difficulties that reduced daily symptom entries. In comparison, paper based data collection records can be accessed at any time without any roadblocks or technical glitches.
While use of electronic media has become popular, it is important to keep in mind that there are still many people who aren’t well-versed in using technology. This digital divide can pose a hindrance to efficient data collection.
Older people may be computer illiterate and this may affect the collection of information. People using digital platforms my even require more assistance, while paper based data collection methods require less assistance.
While maintenance of paper based records may be higher, the financial investment for electronic health records is significantly higher. You would need to purchase computers or tablets, hire computer programmers, WIFI connections and so on.
How to think about ePROs?
Although the pros of ePROs are huge, we cannot overlook the disadvantages. Educational and informative digital sessions will reduce the digital divide. With a lower need for manpower, decreased administrative costs and enhanced data quality, ePROs are the future of healthcare. Patient registries are a type of tool that can help improve data collection for any given population.