Health Information Technology/May 2011

How solution-oriented approaches can advance the adoption and use of health information technology (HIT).

Toolkit to Fine-Tune Health Technology

The success of EHRs depend on their functionality and usefulness in practice. Primary care facilities require complex and multifaceted processes to ensure quality care for patients. EHRs must keep up with these demanding conditions in order to modernize our health care system.

To help health care providers assess the value of this technology, Westat developed an EHR usability toolkit for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This toolkit helps providers assess the design and effectiveness of EHRs in typical primary care procedures.

This important assessment will prepare health care providers for implementing EHRs effortlessly into their practices. There is no doubt that EHRs are the way of the future. Ensuring providers are adequately equipped for this advancement is essential for its success.

Optimizing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) for Children

Westat is leading a large team of organizations in developing requirements (a "Model Format") for EHRs that describe what would be optimal for the care of children. The project will identify gaps between existing systems and this Format. Westat will design, develop, test, and disseminate several prototypes of the Format, as well as assess existing products to see how they conform to the Format.

This undertaking will enable EHR vendors to develop better products for providers who treat children. As our health care system advances with the evolution of health information technology, disparities should not be overlooked. Designing better tools for children will improve health outcomes and ensure they become healthy adults.

Enhancing the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Model

The potential for PCMH circles the globe, and several advocates of PCMHs encourage further growth. Evaluating how PCMHs are organized and delivered, streamlining communication, and eliminating potential setbacks is important to maintain success.

Westat is working to establish a more effective PCMH information model by examining the current flow of information through key stakeholders. A design easily understood by patients and able to keep up with busy primary care offices remains the objective for the information model.

This task will enable the PCMHs to improve design and increase efficiency. By providing patients, providers, and policymakers with interactions assumed in the PCMH model, they will know what to expect of themselves and each other.

Knowledge Sharing Network (KSN)

Bringing people together through communities of practice is critical to effectively share knowledge and experiences, develop leading practices, and innovate. Westat is creating and managing the KSN for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to do just that.

The KSN is enabling the Regional Extension Centers to work together to accelerating the implementation and meaningful use of electronic health records.

This task aims to support EHR implementation for more than 100,000 clinicians. Resources like the KSN will help make this goal a success. As we advance our health care infrastructure, tools like the KSN will undoubtedly offer invaluable support.

Unintended Consequences of HIT and HIE

Our health care delivery system is complex. As the country mobilizes to implement HIT and HIE, there may be unanticipated consequences that result in undesirable outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator Health Information Technology recognizes that providers need tools and resources to anticipate, avoid, and mitigate potential unanticipated consequences due to HIT and HIE.

Westat and our partner, American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), have established a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) and two workgroups to identify and address unanticipated consequences that may result from the use of HIT and HIE. The TEP and workgroups will identify and develop resources, tools, and policies that will support clinicians and providers to avoid and mitigate the unanticipated consequences of HIT and HIE.

Advancing Clinical Decision Support (CDS)

Making meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) tools can be overwhelming to providers who want to make the transition. What works? What doesn't? Where do they go for advice?

Westat is leading a task for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator Health Information Technology to assist in the adoption and meaningful use of HIT. It will focus on CDS design, implementation lessons learned, and best practices.

Westat will produce a series of educational materials that will provide practical advice to support different phases of implementation. The materials will provide analysis of common patient workflows. Small practices will even be able to use a "starter kit" to help them identify, adopt, and use CDS tools.

RECOVERY—Confidentiality and Privacy Issues Related to Psychological Testing Data

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) accords psychotherapy notes a higher level of privacy than other forms of personal health information, including psychological testing data. How does this affect consumers, test developers, policymakers?

RECOVERY is a study to examine the confidentiality and privacy issues related to psychological testing data. The findings will help the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment identify the most appropriate strategies for protecting the privacy of psychological test data.

The project will conduct focus groups with key stakeholders. Webinars will examine and elaborate on findings. Informational packages will summarize key issues, perspectives, and ethical principles.

* Related Internet link - Westat is NOT responsible for the privacy practices or the content on other web sites. (See Westat's Privacy Policy.)