Medical Outcomes Research

May 1, 2019
Mona Kahlid

Outcomes research seeks to understand the end results of particular health care practices and interventions. End results include effects that people experience and care about, such as change in the ability to function. In particular, for individuals with chronic conditions—where cure is not always possible—end results include quality of life as well as mortality. By linking the care people get to the outcomes they experience, outcomes research has become the key to developing better ways to monitor and improve the quality of care. 

Health outcomes research is a methodology used to identify and measure the link between treatments or interventions delivered and the actual outcomes achieved. Put simply, health outcomes studies help determine what works and what doesn’t in health care. Unlike clinical trials or other highly regulated scientific studies that consider only concrete, measurable data (such as mortality rates), health outcomes research takes a broader view to also incorporate clinical outcomes, financial impact, and a range of functional measures, including patients’ reported quality of life and satisfaction. The data gathered can come from a number of avenues and methodologies including from medical records, insurance databases, patient questionnaires, and more. By looking at a greater range of measures, health outcomes studies can provide guidance on a broader set of interventions and decisions than can clinical trials.

There is growing pressure in health care to provide high quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care. Healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to health outcomes research for the evidence-based guidance they need to improve care. Clinicians and executives use this information to assess and improve their business performance or for insight into the most effective treatment options to consider for diverse populations with a range of diagnoses.

What Is Outcomes Research?

Outcomes research is a facet of research that measures results of various medical treatments and/or interventions in patient populations. The purpose of outcomes research per the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is to assist patients, clinicians, purchasers and policy makers in making informed health decisions by advancing quality and relevance of evidence.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines the purpose of outcomes research as a tool to provide evidence about benefits, risks, and results of treatments so clinicians and patients can make more informed decisions. The process involves identifying, measuring and evaluating effects of care provided to patients. Results of outcomes research, which consider clinical, economic, and humanistic outcomes, can guide health care decision makers in selecting the most effective treatment and/or procedural strategy or to improve upon current treatments and medical interventions.

Those involved in making decisions about care may include the patient, the health care professional, or the payer of health care. Examples of some outcomes that can be measured are cure rates for certain diseases, patient functional status and activities of daily living, respiratory function, or the rate of hospital admission or outpatient visits.

Mona Kahlid’s Bio:  Mona Khalid, MPH, MBA – Mona is an independent healthcare consultant with more than 15 years of experience in health services research, specializing in health management program evaluation, healthcare analytics and reporting as well as opportunity assessment and evaluation of personalized medicine initiatives. She provides evaluation strategies and methodology for assessing the impact of various clinical programs. She also analyzes large data-bases to describe drug spending patterns, and forecast drug cost trends. Her clients include Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Community Health Organizations and Academic institutions. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Mona worked for a large pharmacy benefits manager where she led analytic teams and Enterprise initiatives related to the access, management and insightful analysis of claims data for 65+ million members across the United States.