AHRQ looks to improve consumer health IT tools

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would like to learn more from industry experts outside of healthcare about how to improve the use of consumer health information technologies.

Useful consumer health IT products could enhance the quality of healthcare "by empowering individual consumers to take a more active, effective, and collaborative role in their own personal healthcare," AHRQ noted in its request to the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Jan. 27 Federal Register notice.

These products would provide to consumers information storage, archiving and retrieval capabilities to search results of past examinations or lab tests, to interact with electronic versions of their health records, and to identify when to seek healthcare services.

They also would have health monitoring capabilities to report data (such as blood pressure and weight) from various locations, and information seeking and searching capabilities to interactively search for health-related information.

However, despite the potential power of consumer health IT, consumers have not been adopting these technologies to the same degree that they have adopted technology products marketed from other consumer product industries, the agency said. One reason for the slow adoption is that the marketplace lacks robust tools that "allow for the complexity and diversity of personal health information management practices," the notice said.

The success of information management tools in other industries "offers much to be learned and applied to the healthcare field," according to the agency. The comment period on AHRQ's request is open through March 28.

For more details:
- here's the Federal Register notice
- read this Health Data Management article