BACKGROUND: The application of new technologies in the field of plastic surgery has brought forth a number of tools to optimize patient care, ranging from virtual or augmented reality, robotic devices, imaging systems, or social media platforms. However, there has been little information regarding the development and utilization of digital data collection tools both for optimization of clinical care as well as research despite the limitations of traditional paper-based and digital data collection forms. The aim of our study was to demonstrate the utility of a novel digital data collection tool built specifically for patient-reported outcomes.
METHODS: In July 2016, we developed a digital data collection platform named ‘SURVY’ with the intent to optimize collection of patient data, specifically patient-reported outcomes. The digital tool is a web-based secure server designed for the upload of any survey, which once filled, would immediately populate into an analyzable dataset. We prospectively enrolled ten outpatient hand clinic patients to compare data collection performed with SURVY (n=5) to that performed with traditional paper-based forms (n=5) using the QuickDASH survey. We compared time to fill out the survey, as well as total data processing time (including calculation of scores). Three plastic surgeons (A.S.D., M.A.P., and S.J.L.) rated the ease-of-use of SURVY and paper-based forms using the System Usability Scale (SUS). Statistical analyses were performed using independent samples t-tests.
RESULTS: No significant differences were found in time spent filling out SURVY versus a traditional paper-based version of the QuickDASH (seconds, 32.4 ± 10.0 vs. 59.6 ± 34.9; P=0.133). There were significant differences in data processing time between SURVY and paper-based forms (seconds, 1.1 ± 0.2 vs. 24.0 ± 6.2; P<0.001). The mean ease-of-use score, independently determined by three plastic surgeons, was significantly higher for SURVY (SUS-score, 90.7 ± 6.1 vs. 30.7 ± 14.5; P=0.003).
CONCLUSION: We implemented a novel digital platform to collect PROMs, built from the ground up by physicians to streamline the workload in clinical and research settings. The platform performs significantly better than traditional paper-based forms when evaluated by metrics of provider time and ease-of-use. This could further optimize patient data collection and improve research productivity on a global scale.