In recent years, patient portals, secure e-mail messaging software and patient kiosks in provider facilities have significantly increased the generating of electronically captured patient self-reported health information.

The information includes basic medical histories, test results, symptoms, medications, and in-home testing of glucose levels, blood pressure and weight, among other factors. Now, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is preparing for a study by contractor Abt Associates on how best to capture and use patient-reported information in health information systems and associated workflows. The goal, according to an AHRQ notice available here, is to answer three questions:

* How does the use of health I.T. to capture and use patient-reported information support or hinder the workflow from the viewpoints 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?

The study will include participation of three small and three medium-size ambulatory practices, working with Abt Associates and subcontractors University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Alabama-Birmingham.

“A focus of the case studies will be to identify current workflows related to patient-reported information, and determine the work system factors that influence workflow barriers and facilitators,” according to the notice. “In particular, data collected from the six practices will help identify bottlenecks and sources of delay, unnecessary steps or duplication, rework to correct errors or inconsistencies, role ambiguity, missing information, and lack of quality controls or reconciliation of inconsistencies. The focus is not on the content of information reported by patients, or how it alters clinicians’ diagnostic or treatment decisions. Rather, the focus in on the workflows required to capture, process and make use of information that patients report to their care providers.”

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