AHRQ and Google Partner to Help Patients Plan for Medical Visits

By Jeffrey Brady, MD, MPH, Director, AHRQ Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Twitter: @AHRQNews

Questions are the answer—a simple concept that can apply to so many areas of our lives, but none more important than our healthcare.

Through an ongoing collaboration with AHRQ, Google is piloting a new online tool to help patients plan for medical visits. The new Google visit planning tool is built on the same evidence behind AHRQ’s QuestionBuilder app. It makes it easy for patients and those who care for them to privately list and prioritize their questions in preparation for a medical visit. When people use Google to search for a healthcare provider, they will have the option to create their own private visit plan.

Asking the right questions—and making sure you understand the answers—has always been at the heart of AHRQ’s “Questions Are the Answer” public education initiative. Launched in 2007 through a series of public service announcements with the Ad Council, the Questions Are the Answer message highlights the vital role patients and families play as part of their healthcare team.

The initiative was developed based on findings from dozens of patient safety research projects conducted by AHRQ in the early 2000s following the national attention that resulted from the groundbreaking 1999 report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Research by Lucian Leape, M.D., a renowned patient safety expert and AHRQ grantee, was featured prominently.

The year 1999 signified the official start to AHRQ’s patient safety story. It was the year that Congress renamed the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and added the ‘Q’ to emphasize healthcare quality. The patient safety domain of healthcare quality—ensuring that all patients get safe care that helps them get better and not sicker—became AHRQ’s primary focus and established AHRQ as the Federal government’s hub for patient safety research.

The findings and progress made possible by Congress’ initial investments in patient safety research at AHRQ are continuing to help answer questions about the complexities of diagnostic testing and results, medication safety, safe transitions between care settings, and the importance of patient and family engagement. In 2019, while celebrating the Agency’s 20th anniversary, we fused our longstanding research with the latest mobile technology to launch AHRQ’s QuestionBuilder app.

Looking back, it turns out we were ahead of the curve when it came to giving patients the power to easily plan for their medical visits, with our research and questions now serving as the model for Google’s development efforts.

As we collaborate with Google on its new visit planning tool, we’re excited to know that our important patient safety research findings will now have the power to help even more people get the most out of their medical visits. Asking the right questions can truly be the answer.

This article was originally published on AHRQ Views Blog and is republished here with permission.