AHRQ: Convenience, integration drive health IT usage

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The consumer's perception of benefit, convenience and integration into daily activities will serve to facilitate the use of the interactive healthcare technologies for the elderly, chronically ill and underserved, according to a report published this month by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

MEDLINE, CINHAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register and Database of Systematic Reviews, ERIC, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) AgeLine databases were searched for literature from 1990 to present that described the direct use of interactive consumer health IT by at least one of the populations of interest.

Researchers then assessed the quality and abstracted and summarized data from 563 full-text articles and included 129 articles for abstraction, with regard to the level of use, the usefulness and usability, the barriers and drivers of use and the effectiveness of the interactive consumer health IT applications.

Of the studies that reported the impact of interactive consumer health IT on health outcomes, a consistent finding of the review, according to researchers, was that the systems tended to have a positive effect when they provided a feedback loop that included:

  • Monitoring of current patient status;
  • Interpretation of the data in light of established, individualized, treatment goals;
  • Adjustment of the management plan as needed;
  • Communication back to the patient with tailored recommendations or advice; and
  • Repetition of the cycle at appropriate intervals.

Systems that provided only one or a subset of the functions were less consistently effective, the researchers noted.

The most common factor influencing the successful use of the interactive technology by these specific populations was that the consumers' perceived a benefit from using the system. Other barriers included: convenience, integration along with rapid and frequent physician interaction.

The study was conducted by Oregon Health and Science University's Evidence-Based Practice Center.