For health care organizations seeking to improve patient-centered care (PCC) via health IT applications, there are a number of questions that should be addressed, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The report, titled “Enabling Patient-Centered Care through Health Information Technology,” poses a handful of questions that look at barriers to implementation. It also looks at what deficits exist regarding pertinent information to support cost and sustainability of health IT and, lastly, what information is desired for the impact of health IT applications.
The report notes that barriers to patient-centered care include “poor interface usability and problems with access to the health IT applications,” citing age of applications as a laggard in modern health IT systems. Additionally, low computer knowledge persists in both patients and clinicians, which impacts how quickly they can access health applications. Another barrier, which has become a common theme in health care, is provider concern about taking on additional work and managing workflow.
Critical information is needed for estimates of cost, benefit and sustainability of utilizing health IT to empower patient-centered care. The report notes that information from clinical outcomes is one piece of critical information. However, not all of the population is represented by clinical outcomes. There’s a lack of information on whether health IT will improve patient-centered care among pediatric and elderly populations, for example.
Enabling improved patient-centered care requires information that gives consumers, clinicians and developers a value proposition. AHRQ says in its report that stakeholders “need information not only about the effectiveness of health IT applications for specific purposes, but also about their applicability to particular settings.”
This presents a thorny position for stakeholders because they are attempting to understand the value of using health IT, but only have particular populations to learn from. “Stakeholders will gain better understanding of the value of health IT for promoting [patient-centered care] if the selected outcomes are defined in a more standardized way.”
Although these questions can aid health care organizations in their patient centered care strategy, improving patient-centered care is not just about technology. Communication among patients and providers must not fall by the wayside as new technologies enter the fold.