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UF Health researchers to help integrate patient-reported outcomes in electronic health records

A $6.3 million National Institutes of Health grant, awarded to a coalition of universities including the University of Florida, will make it easier to use information that patients provide about their physical, mental and social health to improve health care quality and research.

The grant will integrate patient-reported outcome surveys into electronic health records, or EHRs. These surveys are one of the best ways to improve the quality of health care and health research, studies have shown. By comparing an individual’s medical information and his or her survey responses, health care providers and researchers can see how clinical care affects the health of patients.

“This grant will help to improve the quality of health care that patients receive because it will integrate their perceptions of their care and their health status into their electronic health records,” said François Modave, Ph.D., an associate professor of health outcomes and policy at UF, a faculty member of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Biomedical Informatics Program and the site principal investigator for the grant.

The grant was awarded by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to a coalition of nine universities, led by Northwestern University, through the national Clinical and Translational Science Awards program. Projects such as this one are central to the mission of the UF CTSI, which speeds translation of scientific discoveries into improved health.

The project, called EHR Access to Seamless Integration of PROMIS, or EASI-PRO, will make it easier for researchers and clinicians to collect information from patient surveys. It will integrate the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, or PROMIS, a computerized survey tool that adapts to each patient’s unique answers, into the patient’s electronic health record, which contains the patient’s medical information. Because it asks only the most relevant questions, the survey tool has the potential to make the surveys much shorter, lessening the burden on patients.

Health care systems across the country will be able to administer the same surveys and easily compare results. Northwestern Medicine’s electronic health records already include the survey tool. With the new grant, the project team will build software to integrate the survey with more electronic health records, including those managed by Cerner and Epic, two of the largest vendors.

“Our experience integrating the PROMIS tools into the EHRs at Northwestern has convinced us that tight workflow integration of patient-reported outcomes into the clinical workflow brings many benefits to both quality and clinical research projects,” said Justin Starren, director of the Center for Data Science and Informatics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and principal investigator of EASI-PRO.

At UF Health, the team, led by Modave and co-principal investigator Jiang Bian, an assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and policy, will work with Kari Cassel, UF Health Shands senior vice president and chief information officer, and others to integrate the survey tool into the Epic system. They will also work with UF Health IT to develop an interface with a set of open specifications that integrate apps with electronic health records. This will also ensure that the survey tool is ready to integrate with the statewide OneFlorida Clinical Data Research Network (funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute), where Modave leads the Patient-Reported Outcomes group.

Other sites involved in the multisite grant awarded to Northwestern include the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Kentucky, University of Utah, Harvard Catalyst and Southern California CTSI. Cerner and Epic have signed onto the project as integration collaborators.

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