In 2000–2001, investigators at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at Miriam Hospital, in Providence, R.I., conducted a study to test the feasibility of using a point-of-care computer system to assess patient risk of smoking or physical inactivity and assist physicians with appropriate counseling.
Under this grant, researchers:
- Developed content on smoking and physical activity for a 10-minute computer program.
- Met with physicians and office staff to integrate use of the computerized system into the office routine.
- Installed a laptop and a printer for a one-month trial in 10 practices.
- Recruited 15 patients at each site to pretest the intervention system.
- Subsequently monitored patients' unprompted use of the computer system. A total of 150 patients used the program and completed exit interviews during routine care.
- Conducted exit meetings with each practice to discuss problems.
Key Findings: The researchers reported the following findings to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):
- The computer program was underutilized in routine care.
- Physicians and office staff reported four main barriers to incorporating the computer program into routine care.
- Overall, the program was viewed as inconsistent with the practice workflow.
- Staff were inexperienced with the program.
- Technical problems emerged with the computer and/or printer.
- The program placed an additional time burden on already overworked staff.
- Physicians and office staff made four recommendations to improve the program and its utilization.
- Shorten the program.
- Orient the program to a target patient population (e.g., those with hypertension).
- Include other conditions pertinent to primary care (e.g., screen for depression).
- Select patients to use the system rather than ask all patients to use it.