AHRQ Speaks with Healthcare IS: What Workflow Research Will Achieve

Nov 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM · by Ashley Wetmore

A new proposed study has been submitted by The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in hopes of examining six clinics over a period of 14 months to learn more about the effectiveness of Health IT and the impact of workflow and health IT in ambulatory care practices.

As stated in the notice to be published 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.

We can already see and predict the success of Health IT implementations for this country’s healthcare systems and the patients who receive its care. The Director of AHRQ’s Health IT Program, Jon White, spoke with Healthcare IS yesterday and further explained their investment in the health IT industry stating, “AHRQ's investment in health IT is essential to improving health care quality.  Without reliable and secure data, information tools and systems, system-wide improvement is not possible.  AHRQ's investments over a decade have anticipated the future needs of the health care system, filled gaps in current knowledge, demonstrated how health IT improves health care, and supported development of innovative health IT.  Health IT is a critical means to the goal of better health care.”

The AHRQ research will center on the interaction of health IT and care coordination workflow in the context of practice redesign. By focusing on the care for patients in a small primary care setting, they can better understand the road blocks that stand in the way of health IT being incorporated in care.

If the proposal is approved, “The findings of this study are anticipated to be relevant to many other settings in which health IT is used to support care coordination activities for diabetes and other chronic conditions. Information collected by the study will help researchers and practitioners better understand the impact of workflow and health IT in ambulatory care practices,” stated Jon White.

“The lessons learned from this study may be used to identify additional workflow components that ambulatory practices should consider when implementing health IT systems; to identify issues to address in best practice guidelines health IT implementation; and  to identify issues for consideration in the design and evaluation of other health IT tools.”

The agency published their 60-day Federal Notice yesterday. Director Jon White predicts they will hear back on approval in the coming spring of 2013.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services committed to improving care safety and quality for the long-term improvement of health care systems for all Americans. 


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