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AHRQ Awards Patient-Reported Outcomes Contract to MedStar Health

MedStar Health researchers will be able to work on developing and testing tools and apps for collecting patient-reported outcomes and furthering EHR integration.

patient-reported outcomes ehr integration

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded an 18-month contract to MedStar Health researchers for improving how patient-reported outcomes are collected and how that data is integrated into EHRs.

Researchers can develop and test tools and apps “using specified health IT requirements and standards for use with electronic health records or other health information technology systems to collect patient-reported outcome data for clinical and research use,” according to a MedStar Health statement.

AHRQ’s ACTION III (Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks) funding mechanism awarded the contract, which is also one of three contracts awarded to MedStar Health under the federal contract operation.

“Ensuring that patients have a way to report on outcomes that are meaningful to them is critical to the delivery of safe and effective care,” stated Neil Weissman, MD, chief scientific officer for MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute.

“The growth of data science as part of clinical care is helping us at MedStar Health to turn this data into improved quality of life for our patients,” he continued. “The ongoing collaboration through the ACTION III network will help to advance the health of patients beyond our care sites and community.”

EHR implementation and the increasing amount of data available to physicians have impacted how patients are able to access their own health information. Increased patient data access can also help clinicians in the care process, MedStar Health explained.

Patient-reported outcomes data “captures quality of life, ongoing symptoms, and daily activities, and can help guide clinicians in their care and treatment decisions.”

Deliya Wesley, PhD, MPH and Kathryn M. Kellogg, MD, MPH are co-principal investigators, while Raj Ratwani, PhD will be the project director.

Georgetown University and the CAPRICORN Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) are also collaborating on the research project.

“The team will work with key stakeholders to collect information on the usability and functional requirements for the apps designed to collect patient-reported outcome data on physical functioning,” the health system said. “The apps will be pilot-tested and evaluated in 10 diverse primary and specialty care practices across MedStar Health and eight CAPRICORN primary care sites.”  

AHRQ announced its plans earlier this year to launch a fall 2018 competition to develop health IT capable of enabling EHR integration of patient-reported outcomes data.

Health IT innovators will be encouraged to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) capable of collecting patient-reported health data in ambulatory care settings.

“Data element and data capture standards would allow for [patient-reported outcomes] assessments to be conducted and easily shared regardless of what EHR or health IT solution is being used,” AHRQ said in a notice in the Federal Register. “It would also allow for consistency in interpretation, and clarify the meaning of results for patient-provider communication and shared decision-making.”

AHRQ also stressed in the notice that patient-reported outcomes are critical in providing a more accurate image of a patient health, including health status, function, symptom burden, adherence, health behaviors, and quality of life. However, this type of information is not always widely available in EHRs, which could impact patient care.

“While some EHR systems are currently able to capture some structured [patient-reported outcomes] data, including many of the NIH-funded Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System instruments, this information is not commonly collected in routine care,” AHRQ said. “Thus, these data are often not available for both clinical care and research.”

EHR integration can be critical for furthering the patient care process, and more providers are finding ways to work together to ensure that more detailed patient backgrounds can be created.

Earlier this week InterSystems announced a collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee Premera Blue Cross to combine clinical data from health information exchanges (HIEs) and EHR systems with claims data.

“By combining claims and clinical data, we enable providers to better understand a patient’s health issues in real time,” said Premera Director of Corporate Data and Analytics Colt Courtright.

“For example, a doctor knows what prescriptions have been written, but not if they have been filled,” he continued. “Combining clinical and claims data in real time fills that gap and gives doctors a much more complete picture of their patients’ health, empowering a richer care experience.”

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