AHRQ to Study Impact of Patient-Reported Information on Physician Practice Workflow

Patients now more than ever before are using portals, secure messaging and e-forms to report medical histories, symptoms, self-testing reports and other information with their care providers. 

Healthcare organizations – particularly physician practices – don’t yet know how to optimally handle all of this incoming information.  To fill in the blanks, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is gearing up to conduct a study that will explore “the influence of sociotechnical factors – for clinicians and their office staff, and for patients – in capturing and using patient-reported information in ambulatory health IT systems and associated workflows.” 

More specifically, the goal of the initiative is to answer the following questions:

  • How does the use of health IT 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?
  • How do practices redesign their workflow to incorporate the capture and use of patient-reported information?

To answer these questions, researchers will conduct six case studies at small- and medium-sized practices. Researchers will focus on the workflows required to capture, process, and make use of information that patients report to their care providers. Data collected from the six practices, for example, 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 data quality controls or reconciliation of inconsistencies.

This study is being conducted by AHRQ through its contractor, Abt Associates Inc., and sub-contractors, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Alabama-Birmingham.  AHRQ is accepting comments on the study through May 31, 2013.  The notice announcing the study is available here.