Starting from scratch: implementing outcome measurement in clinical practice
Outcome measurement is becoming increasingly important in palliative care both in research as well as clinical care. Regular ongoing assessments in palliative care clinical practice have the potential to enable monitoring of the patient’s situation, assess the effectiveness of interventions, assess symptoms accurately and focus on patients’ priorities. Implementing routine outcome measurement into clinical practice remains a challenge. Therefore, the aim of this article is to describe the process of implementing routine outcome measurement into daily clinical work in a university palliative care unit. According to the recommendations of Antunes, the following steps were used to implement routine outcome measurement in clinical care in a university palliative care unit. (I) Selection of outcomes of interest by the clinical leads and head of department: most prevalent symptoms; psychological, practical and spiritual concerns, functional status, carer burden; (II) selection of outcome measures: Integrated Palliative Care Outcome Scale (IPOS), phase of illness, Australian Karnofsky Performance Status; (III) educational component about the measure and how to use results: team meetings and team retreat with introduction of outcome measurement in palliative care, chosen measures and role plays with use of measures; (IV) selection of responsible consultant on the ward as coordinator and facilitator for outcome measurement; (V) who applies the measure and its periodicity. Implementation of outcome measurement in clinical routine is feasible following a structured process. Nevertheless, it is a time consuming and long-lasting process which needs continuous attention. However, the benefits outweigh the burden of implementation and it is a task worthwhile undertaking.