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Key Terms

Outcomes orientation

Patient documentation

Service delivery

Staff development

Final report

Tailoring a report


Chapter Outcomes

  • Describe a range of practice recommendations.

  • Construct a summary report.

  • Appreciate the different audiences for outcome data.

  • Describe avenues for disseminating results.

This chapter describes the different ways outcome data can be applied to practice and provides a template for organizing a report. Considerations for tailoring a report and methods of dissemination are introduced.

Chapter 4, Consumers of Outcome Data, described various parties and their interest in outcomes studies. Any of the parties may have an interest in a study, whether or not it was originally intended for them. It is important to think about which stakeholders will have access to the report and the types of explanations they might need. Professional peers may already have insight into what they will want to know about. Patients might need lay interpretations of the data to avoid confusion or misinterpretation. For insurers, it is important to identify the types of clinical and business decisions to which the data might apply and to present both the application and its limitations. In all cases, think about the perspectives and needs of the audience, and adjust the presentation to represent the results and implications fairly.


The most immediate use of clinical outcomes data is their application to a clinician’s daily decision-making processes. Data from a clinician’s own patients should clarify what the clinician is doing well and what the clinician may want to change. The process of defining terminology and reviewing patient charts will illustrate where the clinician is consistent and where there is variability in practice. This self-awareness of personal practice patterns and levels of clinical effectiveness should influence how the very next patient is managed or how that care is documented.

If the data reflect the practices of more than one clinician, influencing practice patterns for a group of clinicians may be more challenging; however, the rewards of improved service are important. Remember that even small changes in patient care processes, such as documenting one new piece of information on every patient, may be harder to put into effect if some do not value the information as important. It will be the responsibility of the investigating clinician to educate others about the value of recommended changes.


The following descriptions are examples of the types of changes that might result from a simple outcomes study of a clinician’s own practice. They reflect some of the more common types of changes that individuals make in clinical practice. The changes typically affect one of three areas: documentation, service delivery, and staff development.

Changes in Documentation Processes

Outcomes orientation ...

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