Success Stories

Success Stories From the AHRQ Digital Healthcare Research Program

Success stories highlight exemplary Digital Healthcare Research Program-funded projects that demonstrate positive impact on healthcare outcomes. These projects are well-poised to demonstrate sustainability or expansion through the translation of digital healthcare research into practice. The stories also aim to highlight new or novel projects that address gaps in the research literature and collectively show a wide range of successful projects supported by the Digital Healthcare Research Program.

Success Stories from specific AHRQ-Funded initiatives can be found at: and

Bringing Communities and Technology Together for Healthy Aging
Principal Investigator: David H Gustafson (Grant No. P50 HS019917)
As the Active Aging Resource Center, the PI and his team proposed to develop, test, and disseminate a low-cost, integrated information and communication technology (ICT) to attack 5 key reasons that several focus groups conducted around the state identified on why elders leave their homes (loneliness and isolation; falls and relapsing from proven falls prevention strategies; loss of driving privileges, and unreliable home service). The Active Aging Research Center team has developed the Elder Tree system addressing the 5 key reasons in models like the fall prevention and the driving project. Also the PI and his team disseminated the Elder Tree system to 43 Wisconsin counties, exceeding the original goal of 20 counties.

ED Disability Diagnostic Tool: an HIT Feasibility Study
Principal Investigator: Lori Ann Post (Grant No. R01 HS018420)
The overarching objective of this study was to improve geriatric patient health outcomes presented to emergency departments (ED) by developing, validating, and testing a disability screening and prognostic tool in a randomized clinical trial. Project was successful in developing a geriatric screening tool for a fast paced high volume ED for cognitive and physical disabilities that took an average 90-seconds to complete. This study was also successful in developing a screening and prognostic score for death, recidivating to ED, or admit to the hospital in 30 days.

NLP-Enabled Decision Support for Cervical Cancer Screening and Surveillance
Principal Investigator: Rajeev Chaudhry (Grant No. R21 HS022911)
This project demonstrated the value of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to enhance the Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool for cervical screening and surveillance. Enhancing CDS in this manner will be welcome by primary care providers as currently they are spending valuable time looking for information that is stored in the text format. In addition the reminders to high-risk patients who are overdue for their services can significantly improve surveillance rates.

Surgical Risk Preoperative Assessment System (SURPAS) - A Postoperative Risk Assessment CDS Tool
Principal Investigator: Robert Meguid, MD MPH/MSPH (Grant No. R21 HS024124)
This new risk assessment clinical decision support tool is intended for use by patient care providers to estimate individual patient risk of complications after a surgical procedure. This quantitative preoperative risk assessment is based upon an individual patient’s values for eight preoperatively available risk factors. Providers could use the guidance of the output of SURPAS to educate patients and further optimize their care to decrease adverse postoperative outcomes. According to the PI's latest report, three manuscripts have been published and development of the software for the SURPAS CDS in University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) Epic EHR system has been performed by AgileMD. This has resulted in the CDS being developed to interact with the UCH instance of Epic EHR.

For more information detailing the SURPAS tool, the URL for the non-EHR integrated test environment of SURPAS CDS is:

HopScore: An Electronic Outcomes-Based Emergency Triage System
Principal Investigator: Scott Levin, PhD (Grant No. R21 HS023641)
This novel, outcomes based emergency department (ED) triage tool called ‘HopScore’ uses patient demographic and clinical information commonly collected at triage to predict patients risk for time-sensitive outcomes. In addition to the original Johns Hopkins and Howard County health systems, HopScore is being deployed at 2 additional sites internationally with different EHR systems and received several requests from other hospitals to implement this triage score in their ED IT systems. This is a success story from many perspectives: the use of live data from the healthcare setting to inform clinical decisions, validating a clinical algorithm using AHRQ funding and moving on to other grant mechanisms to enhance systematic adoption, and diffusion of the innovation locally and throughout the larger healthcare system.

For more information: or

Building a Foundation for Health Information Exchange to Improve Poison Control (PDF, 733 KB).
Principal Investigator: Mollie Cummins (Grant No. R21 HS018773)
This project illustrated that the collaboration between poison control centers and emergency departments is hampered by significant variability, inefficiencies, and safety vulnerabilities, including lack of shared documentation, absence of routine process for sending information back and forth aside from verbal telephone communication, and frequent patient hand-offs during the process.

For more information detailing this project, please access this video (6 min., 03 sec.) 

Flash Video

Text Messaging for Managing Chronic Disease: A Model for Tailored Health Communication (PDF, 246.2 KB).
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Uhrig (Contract No. HHSA290200600001I #7)
This intervention showed that mobile phones and text messaging are an effective health information and communication tool with the potential for wide dissemination and high impact while using a relatively inexpensive technology. This project focused specifically on health messages for HIV-positive men who have sex with men.

For more information detailing this project, please access this video (5 min., 10 sec.) 

Flash Video

Building Health IT Research Capacity (PDF, 467 KB).
Grant Nos R36 HS 018701, R36 HS018239, R36 HS018272, and R36 HS018809
AHRQ supports the next generation of health IT researchers by funding health IT-focused Health Services Research Dissertation grants. This document provides an overview of four dissertation AHRQ-funded projects, the implications of what each grantee has contributed to the field, and how the funding has influenced their research interests and career paths.

Podcasts for these projects are highlighted here.

Electronic Standing Orders in Primary Care Offices Boost the Delivery of Adult Vaccinations and Other Health Maintenance Services (PDF, 1.38 MB).
Principal Investigator: Lynne Nemeth (Contract No. 290-07-10015-2)
The implementation of electronic standing orders has positive impact on staff's involvement in improved patient care.
For more information detailing this project, please access this video (6 min., 18 sec.)

Flash Video

Toolkit Available for Assessing the Impact of Health IT on Workflow in Provider Offices (PDF, 1.03 MB). 
Principal Investigators: Pascale Carayon and Ben-Tzion Karsh (Contract No. 290-08-10036) 
This toolkit helps provider offices assess their workflows before, during, and after the implementation of a health IT system.

Time, Effort, and Infrastructure Costs to Use Electronic Health Records (PDF, 274 KB). 
Principal Investigator: Neil Fleming (Grant No. R03 HS018220) 
This study estimated the actual costs of electronic health record implementation including the resources associated with the time and effort of planning, customization, and training and showed that the loss of revenue and productivity are not as burdensome as feared. 

For more information, please view the presentation Dr. Fleming gave at the 2011 AHRQ Annual Conference. (PDF, 177 KB) .

Previous Success Stories

In 2009, the Program produced a single report of Success Stories. The stories in this report are:

  • SAFEHealth: A Health Information Exchange Improving Health Care Delivery in Central Massachusetts 
    Principal Investigator: Lawrence Garber
  • Using Human Factors Research to Increase the Success of a Health Information Technology Implementation 
    Principal Investigator: Pascale Carayon
  • Measuring Quality in Physicians’ Practices in Southwestern Missouri Using an Electronic Health Record 
    Principal Investigator: Denni McColm
  • Electronic Referrals Show Promise for Improving Quality of Care in Outpatient Settings 
    Principal Investigator: Douglas Bell
  • Electronic Standing Orders in Primary Care Offices Boost the Delivery of Adult Vaccinations and Other Health Maintenance Services 
    Principal Investigator: Lynn Nemeth
  • Building Bridges Workshop: Health Care Consumer Needs and the Design of Health Information Technology 
    Principal Investigator: Anne Peterson
  • Health Care Consumers’ Perspectives on the Design and Use of Health Information Technology 
    Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Kerwin
  • Strategies for Integrating Usability in Electronic Health Records 
    Principal Investigator: Cheryl J. McConnell 

To view the success stories from 2009, please access the report (PDF, 588 KB).