The new project is called Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS). More than 1,000 researchers have already registered to try the new tools.
Cella's project addresses President Obama's call for greater accountability in medical treatment. "In order to have a system that works that way you need a consistent measure of outcomes that people can understand and relate to," Cella said. "That's what we have developed."
The lack of a common vocabulary has hurt research, Cella noted. ""It's a Tower of Babel, a hodge-podge of language. It's a big problem because you can't migrate the results of one study to a broader understanding," he said. "We keep having to learn the same things over and over. We are not building on a foundation of knowledge."
Not only have Cella and his team created a new language and tool for researchers, but the PROMIS project also represents a shift in the way researchers evaluate the benefits of treatments. The goal is not just to help people live longer but also live better.
X-rays, CT scans and lab tests may have minimal relevance to the day-to-day functioning of patients with chronic diseases. "We help measure directly if people are living better by asking them," Cella said. "Sometimes it's as simple as asking, 'Do you think this treatment has made your life better?' That question is surprisingly absent from many studies."
|Contact: Marla Paul|