Progress on the Academy's pilot study of a fellowship-based outcomes data collection process has moved rapidly since receiving Board of Directors' approval in February. Representatives of COMSS, the Board of Councilors, the Committee on Outcome Studies, the Council on Research, and the Council on Health Policy are on a task force overseeing this project.
The objective of the project - to determine the feasibility of collecting, pooling, and disseminating outcomes data from a diverse group of practicing orthopaedists - will be evaluated by collecting data from 60 individual practices around the country. Data collection will begin on September 15 and will last for three months.
Six software companies, The Brigham and Women's Orthopaedic Foundation; Cedaron Medical; Dendrite International; Medical Documenting Systems, Inc.; Summit Medical Systems; and Ortho-Graphics, Inc., have been selected as "official" vendors of the pilot test. Each vendor will incorporate the SF-36 form, the Council on Spinal Specialty Societies/North American Spine Society/Academy spine instrument and the Academy/COMSS lower extremity instrument into stand-alone data collection software packages. Cumulatively, the software packages will incorporate a wide range of data collection and transmission strategies, including everything from paper and pencil reports to touch screen entry.
The test sites have been selected jointly from a pool of volunteers, and current clients of the software vendors. The sites will have an equitable geographic distribution, and will include solo, small, and large group practices; academic and nonacademic centers; and a variety of payment systems from exclusively fee-for-service to exclusively HMO.
At the conclusion of the pilot test, participants and vendors will evaluate their experience with the process, and the software. The task force will independently review the project by auditing and debriefing practices. Their evaluation will focus on adherence to collection protocols, response rates, and quality of data received as well as the impressions of participants.
Following the data collection and evaluation period, the task force will draft recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding an ongoing data collection program.
The software and systems being used in the pilot study will be on display at the Academy's Fifth Annual Symposium on Outcomes and Effectiveness in Musculoskeletal Research and Practice in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 29 - Oct. 1. To register, contact customer service at (800) 626-6726 or for more information about the pilot study contact Chad Munger at (708) 384-4324.