May 20, 2010

Using Computer assisted health risk assessment tools

There are a number of eHealth tools used at various institutions and a Computer assisted Health risk assessment is a good example of a simple tool offering a lot of benefits. In a computer-assisted health-risk assessment (HRA), patients complete a computer survey before seeing their clinician. The interactive program then prints an individualized risk report for the clinician and a recommendation sheet for the patient just before the medical consultation. The intention of such computer-assisted health-risk assessment is to facilitate face-to-face consultation with the provider and not to substitute for patient self-care

This is a small study to enhance understanding about computer-assisted health-risk assessments from physicians’ perspectives. Ten Physicians were interviewed on their experience with  Computer assisted health-risk assessment, after completion of a trial at a Canadian, urban, multi-doctor, hospital-affiliated family practice clinic.

The key benefits identified include-
  • Tool to open dialogue
  • Improved time efficiency, by asking questions on health risks prior to the consultation and triggering patients’ self-reflections on the risks
However, they were unconvinced about the suitability of such risk assessment for all visits to detect new risk information. In terms of feasibility, physicians displayed general acceptance of the risk assessment tool but considered it most feasible for periodic health exams and follow-up visits.

Participants perceived computer-assisted  health-risk assessment as a useful tool in family practice, particularly for identifying psychosocial issues. Physicians displayed a general  acceptance of the computer tool and indicated its greater feasibility for periodic health exams and follow-up visits than all visits. Future physician training on psychosocial issues should address physicians’ concerns by emphasizing the varying forms of “clinical success” for the management of chronic psychosocial issues. Future research is needed to examine the best ways to implement this program in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.

Trial Registration: NCT00385034; (Archived by WebCite at

Also read-

Use of Audio Computer-assisted Self-Interviews to Assess Tuberculosis-related Risk Behaviors

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