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Jackson GL, Krein SL, Alverson DC, Darkins AW, Gunnar W, Harada ND, Helfrich CD, Houston TK, Klobucar TF, Nazi KM, Poropatich RK, Ralston JD, Bosworth HB. Defining core issues in utilizing information technology to improve access: evaluation and research agenda. Journal of general internal medicine. 2011 Nov 1; 26 Suppl 2:623-7.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been at the vanguard of information technology (IT) and use of comprehensive electronic health records. Despite the widespread use of health IT in the VA, there are still a variety of key questions that need to be answered in order to maximize the utility of IT to improve patient access to quality services. This paper summarizes the potential of IT to enhance healthcare access, key gaps in current evidence linking IT and access, and methodologic challenges for related research. We also highlight four key issues to be addressed when implementing and evaluating the impact of IT interventions on improving access to quality care: 1) Understanding broader needs/perceptions of the Veteran population and their caregivers regarding use of IT to access healthcare services and related information. 2) Understanding individual provider/clinician needs/perceptions regarding use of IT for patient access to healthcare. 3) System/Organizational issues within the VA and other organizations related to the use of IT to improve access. 4) IT integration and information flow with non-VA entities. While the VA is used as an example, the issues are salient for healthcare systems that are beginning to take advantage of IT solutions.