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Electronic Patient-Reported Outcomes (ePROs)

What is an electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO)?

An electronic patient-reported outcome or ePRO measures a patient’s self-reported healthcare outcomes through digital means. They address the issues associated with paper-based collection approaches, such as back- or forward-filling diary entries, skipping over items, or writing illegibly. 

ePROs offer a more structured method for data collecting that improves accuracy and patient compliance. They record the date and time at which each data entry is completed and only allow patients to work on entries within a specific date range (e.g. once a day). Patients cannot skip questions on the ePRO.

There are three general categories for ePROs, which include:

  1. Screen-based reporting devices: Patients access software on a device (like a smartphone) that asks them questions and records their answers.
  2. Interactive voice response systems: An automated calling system allows patients to record responses with a touch-tone keypad.
  3. SMS text solutions: Patients are sent a text message to which they can respond.

Why are ePROs important for healthcare?

PROs, in general, are an important part of treatments and clinical trials, as they allow the researcher and doctor to understand how the patient feels after their treatment, providing an extra level of insight beyond clinical symptoms and laboratory values. Electronic PROs make collecting this information easier while also addressing the problems associated with physically recorded PROs.