AHRQ to examine how best to use patient-reported data

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will conduct research that will focus on the best methods for obtaining and using patient-reported information, according to a notice published today in the Federal Register.

The notice points out that while there has been an increase in the use of IT to capture patient data such as medical histories, symptoms and results of self-testing, the use of patient-reported data has yet to be widely integrated into health IT. "This project will fill in the gaps in the current literature by exploring the influence of sociotechnical factors … in capturing and using patient-reported information in ambulatory health IT systems and associated workflows," it says.

Through their research, AHRQ hopes to answer three questions:

  • How does the use of health IT to capture and use patient-reported information support or hinder the workflow from the viewpoint of clinicians, office staff and patients?
  • How does the sociotechnical context influence workflow related to the capture and use of patient-reported information?
  • How do practices redesign their workflow to incorporate the capture and use of patient-reported information?

Specifically, AHRQ will create case studies of six ambulatory care physician practices--to include three small practices of one to four doctors, and three medium-sized practices of five to 10 doctors. One contractor--Bethesda, Md.-based research and consulting firm Abt Associates--and two subcontractors--the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Alabama-Birmingham--will conduct the actual studies.

Data obtained, according to the notice, will help to identify sources of delay, as well as duplication and missing information. It adds: "The focus is not on the content of information reported by patients, or how it alters clinicians' diagnostic or treatment decisions. Rather, the focus is on the workflows required to capture, process, and make use of information that patients report to their care providers."

At FierceHealthIT's executive breakfast panel discussion "Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Care & Efficiencies" at HIMSS13 in March, Matt Siegel, vice president of strategy and corporate development at Verisk Health said that patient-reported data could potentially be a boon to the success of predictive analytics in healthcare.

And research published last fall in the Journal of Clinical Oncology concluded that patient assessments of symptoms and health-related quality of life should be included in comparative-effectiveness studies, particularly with regard to the evaluation of the benefits and harms of cancer treatments.

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice

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