New Report Finds Health IT Tools Improve Patient Outcomes

New Report Finds Health IT Tools Improve Patient OutcomesAHRQ Presents Insights on Use of Health IT Tools in Ambulatory Settings

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is the lead Federal agency under the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for improving the quality of health care for all Americans. As one of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ supports health services research that will improve the quality of health care and promote evidence-based decision making. AHRQ’s latest report finds that the use of certain health IT tools including decision support, clinical workflow and care coordination systems, can improve health outcomes.

Findings and Lessons From the Improving Quality Through Clinician Use of Health IT Grant Initiative presents findings collected from 24 AHRQ-funded projects awarded through the agency’s Ambulatory Safety and Quality program.  It is the first in a series of five reports highlighting findings and lessons from AHRQ health IT-focused grant initiatives. Each report will identify practical insights regarding the use of health IT tools to improve safety and quality in ambulatory settings.

This first report details four primary areas of interest. From the report:

  1. Providing patient-specific information, clinical knowledge, and decision support, addressed in 15 projects, includes the provision of clinical recommendations and guidelines and clinical information about specific patients from registries and other sources to help clinicians and patients make decisions that improve outcomes.
  2. Supporting clinical workflow, addressed in seven projects, refers to the study of how the implementation of health IT systems can support effective and efficient clinical workflows, taking into account organizational factors in ambulatory settings.
  3. Coordinating care, addressed in three projects, is defined as “the deliberate organization of patient care activities between two or more participants (including the patient) involved in a patient’s care to facilitate the appropriate delivery of health care services” (AHRQ, 2007)
  4. Understanding the impact of health IT on outcomes in ambulatory care settings, addressed in two projects, includes research to better understand how clinician use of health IT can impact outcomes.

The findings from this report and those to follow are meant to inform researchers and front-line implementers of health IT tools to help clinicians achieve better health care outcomes. View or download the full report here.