Researcher lands $3 million from AHRQ, NIH to tackle chronic pain care, informed consent

Christopher Harle will work with University of Florida researchers to develop software to help patients better understand what they are granting access to when they approve use of their electronic health records for research purposes.
By Bernie Monegain
10:09 AM

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis researcher Christopher Harle, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, has scooped up two grants totaling $3 million to work on tools and strategies for engaged patient care.

One piece of his work will focus on chronic pain care, supported by $1.1 from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ.

[Also: Michigan docs put data to work on patient care]

The other calls for improving patient understanding of informed consent regarding their medical records. The National Institutes of Health awarded Harle $1.9 million for the project. He will work with University of Florida researchers to develop software to help patients better understand what they are granting access to when they approve use of their electronic health records for research purposes.

The goal on the chronic pain front is to develop information-based tools to help primary care providers improve care for patients. Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans and costs $630 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost worker productivity.

"A lot of this stems from challenges around chronic pain, which has biological, physical and psychological underpinnings and therefore can be challenging to diagnose and treat effectively," Harle said in a statement.

[Also: Kaiser, others open notes to patients]

"We want to understand at a pretty basic level how clinical work happens for chronic pain in primary care, how a doctor and other healthcare providers obtain information about patients when it comes to chronic pain, how they use that information at a detailed level, and how they make decisions regarding treatment," he added.

"Our goal is to use that information to design new prototypes for information technology-based clinical decision support," Harle said.

The second grant aims to help patients better understand what it means to approve use of their electronic health record data for research purposes.

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The tool would take a patient through an informed-consent process, IUPUI officials said, showing how their EHR information could be used in research. As data is increasingly shared among health systems, the nature of patient records is changing.

"It's potentially much larger and more comprehensive than that file folder you might imagine sitting in your family doctor's filing cabinet," said Harle.

Researchers are looking toward an interactive tool that could be everywhere from primary care offices to academic medical centers.

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Top row - left to right: Dr Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), HHS Office of the Secretary, US, Tim Kelsey, SVP - Analytics, HIMSS, Australia and Dr Ahmed Balkhair, Saudi Arabia’s Digital Transformation Advisor, Ministry of Health. 

Bottom row: Dr Anne Snowdon, Director of Clinical Research - Analytics, HIMSS, Canada.

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