Download the 2018 Year in Review Report (PDF, 3.98 MB)

Reaching the Research Community through Web Conferences

Go to the Events page to see the most recent Health IT Web

AHRQ convenes web-based conferences to showcase recent health IT research developments and further the dialogue on future research. In 2018, AHRQ convened two national web conferences where key findings and impacts from the research were presented. Both webinars were accredited by the Professional Education Services Group to help further dissemination. Over 900 participants attended the conferences.


Reducing Provider Burden Through Better Health IT Design


At the culmination of the web conference, participants were equipped with knowledge and approaches to: 1) identify cognitive and teamwork aspects in VTE prophylaxis and sociotechnical system design requirements to support teamwork; 2) assess EHR usability, clinical work flow, cognitive workload, and provider-patient communication; and 3) assess provider mental workload and performance with regard to EHR usability. The conference was attended by 522 participants.

On Thursday, January 25, 2018, AHRQ hosted a web conference about the impact of health IT design on provider burden. Provider burnout is rising and EHR use is cited as one of the top reported stressors for providers. Poor EHR design can increase provider burden, and AHRQ is supporting research to alleviate provider burden as it relates to health IT design and use, including clinical workflow, physician-patient communication, cognitive load, and user satisfaction. The following presenters discussed their research on optimal design of EHRs to support clinical workflow: Dr. Pascale Carayon from the University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering, Dr. Zia Agha from West Health, and Dr. Lukasz Mazur from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. A brief summary of research goals and key findings from the researchers presentations are provided below:

  • Dr. Pascale Carayon’s research on health IT for venous thromboembolism (VTE) used 11 case studies and a participatory approach to identify design considerations for health IT to support the process of VTE prophylaxis. Following a sociotechnical approach, her research identified 13 categories of design considerations to be incorporated into a health IT system that supports the process of VTE prophylaxis, including the patient’s journey, clinical appropriateness, role clarity among clinical team members, organizational culture, workload, and technology access.
  • Dr. Zia Agha’s research quantified EHR usability to improve clinical workflow with regard to cognitive workload and clinician-patient communication. Data were collected with video recordings of patient visits, usability software that tracked how clinicians use the EHR, and a clinician survey. Findings indicate that the EHR user interface imposed very high work burden on clinicians, and provider perception of workload is influenced by the environment and their relationship with the patient.
  • Dr. Lukasz Mazur’s research assessed the impact of an EHR that was enhanced for monitoring critical abnormal test results. A randomized controlled trial conducted using test cases in a laboratory environment suggest that the enhanced EHR contributed to improvements in clinical performance and physiological workload. The research concluded that policies and guidelines are required to improve the usability of EHRs to help ensure optimal clinical performance.

View the January 25, 2018 Event Page

How Health IT Can Improve Medication Management


By the end of the conference, participants were able to: 1) explain the benefits and challenges of using AI for generating text messages to support medication adherence; 2) discuss evaluation of a pillbox used by patients during transitions in care; and 3) describe human factors, usability, and utility of a CDS for community pharmacists. The conference was attended by 402 participants.

On September 13, 2018, AHRQ convened a national web conference focused on the use of health IT to improve medication monitoring, adherence, and medication therapy management for patients with complex conditions. As people are living longer, many individuals have multiple chronic conditions that require accordingly complex medication management. The following presenters discussed their research on strategies to improve medication management: Dr. Karen Farris from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, Dr. Jeffrey Schnipper from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Margie Snyder from Purdue University College of Pharmacy. A brief summary of research goals and key findings from the researchers presentations are provided below:

  • Dr. Karen Farris’s research used AI to automatically adapt text messages about blood pressure medication adherence to patients’ medication-taking behaviors. A randomized controlled trial found that individuals using the AI tool reported improvements in medication adherence 3 months into the trial.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Schnipper’s research tested a novel electronic pillbox that issued medication reminders and shared adherence data with the patient’s provider. A randomized controlled trial was conducted among patients taking five or more medications for chronic conditions at the time of hospital discharge. The study team worked with providers and pharmacists to overcome barriers to refilling medications by using blister packs that were compatible with the pillbox, and worked with patients to help them identify locations in their homes where Wifi connectivity was adequate to transfer data from the pillbox.
  • Dr. Margie Snyder’s research investigated the alignment of CDS with established human factors principles and assessed the usability and usefulness of CDS for community pharmacists for patient care. Findings from the study are forthcoming.

View the September 13, 2018 Event Page