New Research on Impact of Health IT on Ambulatory Workflows

AHRQ to examine health IT, practice workflow redesign

Erin McCann, Contributing Editor Government HealthIT

A new project by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality aims to examine the relationship between health information technology and ambulatory workflows, according to the agency’s Oct. 31 Federal Register notice.

AHRQ requested that the Office of Management and Budget approve funding for its information collection project, “Using Health Information Technology in Practice Redesign: Impact of Health Information Technology on Workflow.”

Agency officials have pegged total project expenditures at $799,929 over a 36-month period, with the majority of the costs coming from conducting the data analysis.

“The use of health IT to support practice redesign requires a deep understanding of the interaction between health IT and workflow, ideally through a human factors and socio-technical framework,” the notice reads.

AHRQ further explains that these health IT workflow interactions are not well understood and have not been adequately examined at smaller ambulatory practices.

The majority of research conducted on the relationship between health IT and workflows has occurred at larger medical institutions and health systems outside the U.S., say agency officials.

Thus, “The goal of the project is to understand the impact of implementing health IT-enabled care coordination on workflow within small community-based primary care clinics in various stages of practice redesign,” according to the notice.

The project will be conducted at six Vanderbilt University Medical Center clinics across a 14-month period, officials say. Each of the clinics has an electronic health record (EHR) system, but each is at a different stage of the implementation process.

The study will specifically examine the effects of registries for diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure; remote patient monitoring; increased patient contact with coordinators between hospital visits; and patient episode alerts for staff members.

Officials say the study will ultimately “focus on clinic staff caring for patients with diabetes within small primary care clinics to understand enablers and barriers to care coordination workflow through the use of health IT.”

Following the study, AHRQ expects the results will help identify workflow components that ambulatory practices should consider when implementing health IT systems; contribute to health IT best practice guidelines; and reveal other potential issues related to the development and evaluation of health IT tools.

Erin McCann is a Contributing Editor at Government HealthIT where this article was first published.