One of our research projects is focused on helping patients understand and use health information presented through a ‘patient portal’ (electronic health record). Portals are intended to improve patient care by providing more access to health information when patients want it. However, portals have been used less than expected by older adults, in part because they are hard to use and the information is often hard to understand. We are focusing on patient understanding of numeric information such as test results. Patients often need to understand cholesterol and diabetes numbers and other test results in order to determine whether they are at risk for illness, compare treatments based on risks and benefits, or make other health-related decisions.
Another research project is focused on supporting providers’ ability to educate patients about medication management and patients’ ability to accomplish this and other self-care goals at home. More specifically, we are developing tools integrated with Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems that automatically translate medication information in the EMR into language that patients can easily understand and use, and integrate this language into a computer agent (CA)-based medication adviser system that supports distributed collaboration between providers and patients.