Outcomes research is focused on measuring the end results of health care.
"Process measures" in healthcare track whether a procedure was performed, or an intervention was delivered. Outcome measures, on the other hand, ask whether we achieved the intended result. Traditional medical outcome measures include things like:
Mortality - Did the person live?
Morbidity - Did the person end up with medical complications?
Readmissions - Did the person need to go back to the hospital?
Quality Measures - Did the person fall? Develop a pressure injury? Acquire an infection?
But our goals in rehabilitation sciences reflect the saying: it is not about the years in your life, but the life in your years. Rehabilitation services aim to optimize physical health, psychological health, independence, social well-being, environmental factors, and spiritual well-being. To that end, we are interested in measures like:
Self-Care - Was the person able to wash, dress, and toilet themselves as independently as possible? What about cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping?
Mobility - Was the person able to navigate their home and the community? What about global travel?
Cognition & Executive Function - Was the person able to manage daily functions such as medication management and personal finances? What about return to employment?
Social Participation - Was the person able to engage in meaningful social activities and relationships?
…the answers to these questions require data.
We need structured, informed approaches for assessing, documenting, and analyzing these constructs. Furthermore, incidents that lead to rehabilitation stays often result in long-term impacts – and we need strategies to collect long-term data to better understand these outcomes.
At the Rehabilitation Outcomes Center at Spaulding, our faculty are involved in various facets of this work to promote data-driven practices at every stage of the rehabilitation journey.