Responsiveness to Change of Functional Limitation Reporting: Cross-sectional Study Using the Intermountain ROMS Scale in Outpatient Rehabilitation

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) require physical therapists document patients’ functional limitations. The process is not standardized. A systematic approach to determine a patient's functional limitations and responsiveness to change is needed.


The purpose of this study is to compare patient-reported outcomes (PROs) responsiveness to change using 7-level severity/complexity modifier scale proposed by Medicare to a derived scale implemented by Intermountain Healthcare's Rehabilitation Outcomes Management System (ROMS).


This was a retrospective, observational cohort design.


165,183 PROs prior to July 1, 2013, were compared to 46,334 records from July 1, 2013, to December 31, 2015. Histograms and ribbon plots illustrate distribution and change of patients’ scores. ROMS raw score ranges were calculated and compared to CMS’ severity/complexity levels based on score percentage. Distribution of the population was compared based on the 2 methods. Sensitivity and specificity were compared for responsiveness to change based on minimal clinically important difference (MCID).


Histograms demonstrated few patient scores placed in CMS scale levels at the extremes, whereas the majority of scores placed in 2 middle levels (CJ, CK). ROMS distributed scores more evenly across levels. Ribbon plots illustrated advantage of ROMS’ using narrower score ranges. Greater chance for patients to change levels was observed with ROMS when an MCID was achieved. ROMS narrower scale levels resulted in greater sensitivity and good specificity.


Geographic representation for the United States was limited. Without patients’ global rating of change, a reference standard to gauge validation of improvement could not be provided.


ROMS provides a standard approach to identify accurately functional limitation modifier levels and to detect improvement more accurately than a straight across transposition using the CMS scale.

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