The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is preparing a study to assess the relationship between health information technology implementation and health care workflows in six ambulatory practices becoming medical homes.

The study of small and medium-sized practices will focus on behavioral and organizational factors that influence disruptive events. Health I.T. is intended to enable a seamless and organized flow of information among providers, but that often isn’t the case, AHRQ says in a notice available here and being published Jan. 28.

“Unfortunately, health I.T. systems can fail to generate anticipated results and even carry unintended consequences which undermine usability and usefulness,” the agency notes. “Directly or indirectly, health I.T. may create more work, new work, excessive systems demands, or inefficient workflow (the sequence of clinical tasks). Electronic reminders and alerts may be timed poorly. Software may require excessive switching between screens, leading to cognitive distractions for end users. Providers may spend more time on health I.T.-related tasks than on direct patient care.”

The participating practices will be in the process of implementing a new HIT system, although some may have an existing more basic system. Billings Clinic will conduct the study under contract with AHRQ, which seeks comment in the notice on its approach to the study.

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