Author: Rachel L. Richesson, M.P.H.

Primary Advisor: Jim P. Turley, PhD, RN

Committee Members: Craig W. Johnson, PhD; Richard Grimes, PhD; Carl Slater, MD

Masters thesis, The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Allied Health Sciences at Houston

Outcomes research is a major topic of discussion relative to professional practice and education. Combining outcomes research and evidence based practice can provide a structure for the improvement of the cost/quality ratio in healthcare and hence should be a major factor in health informatics education and practice. The rising costs of health care and fundamental changes in healthcare delivery over the past two decades have created an urgency to improve healthcare quality and efficiency. This sense of urgency has led to the development of new healthcare delivery models, broad organizational restructuring, and the redesign of healthcare business and clinical processes. These changes are not only redefining the healthcare environment, but are creating demands for new healthcare information infrastructures. A core element of these new healthcare information infrastructures is the ?real time' measurement of outcomes aided by the greater availability and specificity of healthcare information. As healthcare organizations begin to adopt electronic medical record systems and information management systems to increase efficiency and improve quality of care, attention must be paid to the elements of an information system that will allow for data collection to examine outcomes. The collection and utilization of outcomes information is becoming increasingly important for health care organizations' quality monitoring and accreditation processes. The measurement of health outcomes will be an important factor in the financial competitiveness of an organization in the new millennium of managed care. The measurement of patient and clinical outcomes also promises to improve the knowledge and practice of healthcare by allowing for scientific examination of interventions in real-world practice. This paper provides an overview of outcomes research (definitions, driving forces, history, components, methods, and criticisms) and explores the implications for the design and management of information systems to meet the needs of outcomes research professionals.