AHRQ may expand healthcare consumer survey to include IT

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking public comment on its proposal to expand the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys to include questions that will obtain consumer perspectives on their providers' use of health IT.

The surveys, first launched in October 1995 in response to concerns about the lack of informative data about the quality of health plans for enrollees, are designed measure consumer satisfaction with providers and health insurers.

AHRQ said that the intent of the new survey module is to provide information to clinicians, group practices, health plans and other interested parties regarding the impact of the use of health IT on patients' experiences with care, according to a notice published June 16 in the Federal Register.

The analysis, funded through cooperative agreements with the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., and Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., is being conducted pursuant to AHRQ's statutory authority to conduct research and evaluations on healthcare and systems for the delivery of such care, including activities with respect to:
(1) the quality, effectiveness, efficiency, appropriateness and value of healthcare services and
(2) healthcare technologies, facilities and equipment.

Researchers from Harvard and Rand will conduct a field test of the proposed new survey, with the intent to draw 7,200 respondents throughout 2009. Respondents will be selected from six purposively chosen sites (providers and health insurance plans) that have implemented health IT systems, such as EHRs and electronic prescription refills, that are used by sufficient numbers of enrollees (i.e., at least 2,400 enrollees per site).

Comments on the notice must be received by July 16.