Tracking Patients' Progress: How Are We Doing?

In the 1967 movie The Graduate, Ben, played by Dustin Hoffman, gets career advice from Mr. McGuire, played by Walter Brooke: “are you listening? One word: plastics.” Not bad advice from our celluloid heroes. If Mr. McGuire could give one-word career advice to those of us in rehabilitation, I think it would be “measurements.”

Standardized outcome measures allow us to measure our success by speaking the same language when comparing diagnosis and functional outcomes. It is a means to quantify the amount of change in a patient’s progress and ultimately measure how we perform as a clinic. As a clinic, we have been collecting outcome measurements on our patients, grouping the measurements into diagnostic categories, utilizing standardized tests and analyzing for statistical significance. The outcomes tell the story.

When you send your patients to the Center for Sports Rehab and Specialty Services, they get better. Significantly better. Not only is pain and range of motion improved, but also their function improves and the patients move toward accomplishing their goals. In my travels through rehabilitation networks, I have found more often than not that the patient is told what is best for their recovery and what their goals should be. We have shifted our focus on the patient utilizing the Patient Specific Functional Scale (PSFS) as one of our tools of measurement. This tool is all about the patient, what they feel their limitations are, what activities of daily living they have difficulty performing and what they want to accomplish while in rehabilitation.  Measurements are key to the patients’ success and ours.

We are committed to collecting standardized outcome measures at evaluation and discharge for individuals participating in SLP, OT and PT. This is a means to quantify the amount of change in a patient’s progress and as a clinic as a whole. The standardized outcomes used in the clinic were chosen due to their validity, reliability and responsiveness to change. The above charts show some of the outcomes from 2013 demonstrating significant improvement in symptoms and function in a wide variety of disorders or diagnoses.