AHRQ Health IT Update

Two AHRQ-Supported Papers Focus on Improving After Visit Summaries 

After Visit Summaries (AVSs) are paper or electronic documents intended to inform patients about their health and health care issues following an outpatient visit. AVSs have not tended to follow health literacy principles for written materials and are frequently not used to further patient education.

As part of an AHRQ-funded study to design and test a more understandable AVS, grantee Alexander Federman and colleagues published, “Patient and clinician perspectives on the outpatient after-visit summary: a qualitative study to inform improvements in visit summary design,” Their article finds that the after-visit summary is highly valued by patients and clinicians alike. Both sets of stakeholders, however, have identified numerous ways to improve the AVS to enhance patient-centered care while also safeguarding privacy, assuring accuracy of medical information, and facilitating outpatient workflow.

AHRQ also supported a paper commissioned by National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Literacy, “Primary Care Implementation of After-Visit Summaries for Patients with Limited Health Literacy.” Author Courtney Lyles and colleagues conducted a review of the literature and conducted in-depth interviews of medical and quality directors at a variety of primary care sites. The resulting paper chronicles reports of the best and worst AVS features  and shares ideas for improving AVS implementation and use in primary care.

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