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AHRQ to Launch IT Challenge for Patient-Reported Outcomes Data

January 4, 2018
by Heather Landi
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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), plans to conduct a challenge competition in the fall 2018 aimed at developing user-friendly technical tools to collect and integrate patient-reported outcome data in electronic health records (EHRs) or other health information technology products.

AHRQ posted a notice in the Federal Register in late December announcing its plan for the IT challenge.

As background, in the notice, AHRQ states that the patient's perspective is central to healthcare decisions affecting prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term care. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) critically inform patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) and can inform clinical management of individuals, shared decision making, patient self-management support, care planning, goal setting and goal attainment. However, AHRQ states, standardized tools that collect PRO data in a way that is meaningful and useful to both patients and clinicians in primary care and ambulatory settings are not widely available.

What’s more, AHRQ notes that the limited inclusion of PRO data in EHRs and other health IT solutions reduces the understanding and use of the patient's perspective in research and clinical care. “Further, while some EHRs are currently able to capture some structured PRO data, including many of the NIH-funded Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) instruments, this information is not commonly collected in routine care. Thus, these data are often not available for both clinical care and research. Moreover, standards do not exist for collecting and integrating PRO data into health IT systems, thereby limiting the ability to easily share these data across health systems for research or other purposes including quality improvement,” AHRQ officials stated.

To fill these gaps, AHRQ intends to support the development of user-friendly, PRO-collection tools that utilize health IT standards, including application programming interfaces (APIs) to collect physical function data in ambulatory care settings, including primary care. Data element and data capture standards would allow for PRO assessments to be conducted and easily shared regardless of what EHR or health IT solution is being used.

As part of the challenge competition, developers will be asked to create tools based on implementation specifications provided by AHRQ. The tools should enable patients to share their physical function data with clinicians and researchers

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