AHRQ’s New Health IT Research Year in Review Report Features MedStar Health Human Factors Research and Outcomes

This October, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released its Health Information Technology Research 2018 Year in Review, including overviews and outcomes of AHRQ-funded work awarded to MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) and led by the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare (Center). The Center is part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation and regularly partners with MHRI. Click here to read more and download the AHRQ report

AHRQ investments detailed throughout the report aim to improve the quality and safety of health care via health information technology (health IT). The report has been released for years, typically annually and dating back to 2008. It supports AHRQ stakeholders, including patients, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers, with learning about the research, goals, and progress; emerging technologies; and how to access related information and products to support knowledge transfer and replicate successes. 

Six Active Center Research Projects Featured

The report recognizes the following MHRI-awarded, Center-led AHRQ research that was active in 2018 (Note: Page numbers refer to the online PDF pages): 

  • Developing Evidence-Based, User-Centered Design and Implementation Guidelines to Improve Health Information Technology Usability (page 53). This R01 grant is among AHRQ’s health services research projects and is led by principal investigator Raj Ratwani, PhD.
  • Improving Patient Safety and Clinician Cognitive Support Through eMAR [Electronic Medication Administration Records] Redesign (page 53). This R01 grant is also among AHRQ’s health services research projects and is led by principal investigator Raj Ratwani, PhD.
  • Context is Critical: Understanding When and Why Electronic Health Record Related Safety Hazards Happen (page 61). This R21 grant is among AHRQ’s exploratory and developmental grants to improve healthcare quality through health IT and is led by principal investigator Aaron Zachary Hettinger, MD.
  • Cognitive Engineering for Complex Decisionmaking & Problem Solving in Acute Care (page 70). This R01 grant advances AHRQ’s work to understand clinical information needs and healthcare decision-making processes in the context of health IT and is led by principal investigator Aaron Zachary Hettinger, MD.
  • Quantifying Efficiencies Gained through Shareable Clinical Decision Support Resources (page 78). This AHRQ contract is led by principal investigators Kristen Miller, DrPH, and Aaron Zachary Hettinger, MD.
  • Advancing the Collection and Use of Patient-Reported Outcomes through Health Information Technology (page 79). This AHRQ contract is led by principal investigators Deliya Wesley and Raj Ratwani, PhD.

Feature Stories Sharing More Information 

Additionally, two MedStar-led efforts were highlighted among stories about AHRQ’s emerging and innovative newly-funded 2018 research, which strives to ensure health IT is designed and implemented in ways that improve quality and safety without placing excessive burden patients, physicians, and other users.

  • Leveraging Clinical Decision Support (CDS) to Advance Research Evidence into Clinical Practice (page 24): This work compares CDS tools developed in isolation with those developed using resources available on CDS Connect, an AHRQ-funded project to translate evidence-based care into clinical practice with interoperable CDS. It includes four healthcare systems and two EHR vendors to allow for analytic comparisons within and across sites to identify efficiencies when using shareable and interoperable CDS resources. 
  • Supporting AHRQ Step Up App Challenge to Encourage Use of Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) to Improve Patient Care (page 25): The challenge encouraged participants to create apps that advanced the collection of standardized PRO data in ambulatory care settings both within and across different providers. MedStar Health is modifying and pilot testing an application that incorporated the draft technical specifications to enable broader PRO data sharing for clinical and research purposes, as well as the winning app from the Step Up App Challenge.  

In one of three patient safety Health IT research spotlights, the report also details how AHRQ health IT safety investigator and Center director Raj Ratwani, PhD, and team are using health IT research and advocacy to make a real difference in improving patient safety.

  • Improving Electronic Health Record (EHR) Design and Usability to Increase Patient Safety, Especially for Children (pages 31-32). Leveraging a novel natural language processing algorithm, the team analyzed medication-related patient safety report data from three health institutions and identified and categorized those related to EHR issues and possible patient harm in children. They found pervasive problems through this work and ultimately aim to establish clear guidelines for both EHR vendors and healthcare providers that will lead to usability improvements and avoid harm to patients.
  • Representing AHRQ Health IT-Funded Research in Health Affairs Patient Safety Issue and Event (page 45). The November 2018 issue of Health Affairs, as well as a related event, included a comprehensive look at the best and latest patient safety research, including the aforementioned AHRQ research by Dr. Ratwani. These efforts raised awareness about emerging issues in patient safety and explored ways to close gaps in research, policy, and implementation to reduce patient harm. 

Explore the full AHRQ report for more information about this research and related resources, as well as other AHRQ-funded initiatives taking place beyond MedStar Health to advance health IT research, quality, and safety. Follow the Center on Twitter, Facebook, and its main website for regular updates about its AHRQ-funded work and other important initiatives.