Data Collection and Outcome Measures
As part of our final requirements for the DPT program, we participate in a data-collection project throughout the course of our year-long affiliation. I've blogged about this before, but for those of you who aren't familiar, it's one huge project that serves as tool for us to determine whether or not we're effectively treating our patients using current evidence and outcome tools. We collect outcomes throughout the patient's stay, include some demographic information, and record which types of interventions we're using (and whether or not we really should be using them).
It's a great idea -- in theory. Before I started the affiliation in May, I didn't think the guidelines would be difficult to adhere to. But as time has gone on, the more I realize how much you have to dedicate yourself to using outcome measures, particularly at the proper times. Sure, it should be easy to take a daily gait speed. But then you realize that family training, community reintegration, and equally important sessions pop up, and all of a sudden it's time for discharge and you haven't collected the information you need.
The hospital I work at just implemented a similar outcome/compliance tracking for patients who have had a stroke, and it's reassuring to see that the clinicians run into these same problems. I know there isn't a good excuse for not using outcome measures; however it's more difficult than it appears at face value. This is one of those areas that I challenge myself to improve on before I graduate, and I hope that improvement continues as I become a full-time clinician.