The computer-based health evaluation system (CHES): a software for electronic patient-reported outcome monitoring

B. Holzner, J. Giesinger, J. Pinggera, S. Zugal, F. Schöpf, A. Oberguggenberger, E. Gamper, A. Zabernigg, B. Weber and G. Rumpold

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 12(126), 2012.

Abstract. 

Background

Patient-reported Outcomes (PROs) capturing e.g., quality of life, fatigue, depression, medication side-effects or disease symptoms, have become important outcome parameters in medical research and daily clinical practice. Electronic PRO data capture (ePRO) with software packages to administer questionnaires, storing data, and presenting results has facilitated PRO assessment in hospital settings. Compared to conventional paper-pencil versions of PRO instruments, ePRO is more economical with regard to staff resources and time, and allows immediate presentation of results to the medical staff.

The objective of our project was to develop software (CHES -- Computer-based Health Evaluation System) for ePRO in hospital settings and at home with a special focus on the presentation of individual patient's results.

Methods

Following the Extreme Programming development approach architecture was not fixed up-front, but was done in close, continuous collaboration with software end users (medical staff, researchers and patients) to meet their specific demands. Developed features include sophisticated, longitudinal charts linking patients' PRO data to clinical characteristics and to PRO scores from reference populations, a web-interface for questionnaire administration, and a tool for convenient creating and editing of questionnaires.

Results

By 2012 CHES has been implemented at various institutions in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK and about 5000 patients participated in ePRO (with around 15000 assessments in total). Data entry is done by the patients themselves via tablet PCs with a study nurse or an intern approaching patients and supervising questionnaire completion.

Discussion

During the last decade several software packages for ePRO have emerged for different purposes. Whereas commercial products are available primarily for ePRO in clinical trials, academic projects have focused on data collection and presentation in daily clinical practice and on extending cancer registries with PRO data. CHES includes several features facilitating the use of PRO data for individualized medical decision making. With its web-interface it allows ePRO also when patients are home. Thus, it provides complete monitoring of patients'physical and psychosocial symptom burden.

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Jakob Pinggera
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