James D. Ralston, MD, MPH

“My work focuses on helping health care providers use information technologies to engage patients and their family members outside of traditional in-person visits.”

James D. Ralston, MD, MPH

Group Health Research Institute Associate Investigator
Group Health Physician, Internal Medicine

Biography

How can health care be redesigned to better meet the needs and preferences of the millions of Americans living with chronic conditions? This question is at the heart of James Ralston’s research, compelling him to explore innovative designs of care that take advantage of new information technologies.

A general internist, Dr. Ralston joined Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) in 2003 to lead the Institute’s health informatics research program. But his expertise and interests go far beyond informatics. While much of Dr. Ralston’s work emphasizes information technologies as helpful components of care, they serve his true passion: that is, improving the health and health care of people who have common chronic conditions. This mission requires effectively evaluating new communication technologies that foster continuous care and a closer connection between patients and health care teams. In the past several years, Dr. Ralston has led and contributed to research showing that using new information and communication technologies to move care from the provider’s office to the patient’s home leads to promising outcomes.

Dr. Ralston’s commitment to finding effective redesigns of care spans all stages, from development to complete translation. With a team of GHRI and UW colleagues, he is helping evaluate Group Health’s “access initiative”—a suite of innovations designed to make health care easier to get, in part by leveraging advances in information technology, such as secure member Web sites and electronic medical records (EMRs). Dr. Ralston also collaborates with the informatics department at Group Health, and he sits on the oversight committee that explores how doctors can best use it to help patients.

Dr. Ralston provides outpatient consultation through Group Health Permanente’s Consultative Internal Medicine Group and is a volunteer medical advisor on the Steven’s Pass ski patrol. He is also an affiliate associate professor in health services at the UW, where he serves on student PhD and MPH committees. 

Research interests and experience

Recent publications

Grembowski D, Ralston JD, Anderson ML.

Hemoglobin A1c, comorbid conditions and all-cause mortality in older patients with diabetes: a retrospective 9-year cohort study.

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Jul 29. pii: S0168-8227(14)00311-8. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.07.017. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Oster NV, Jackson SL, Dhanireddy S, Mejilla R, Ralston JD, Leveille S, Delbanco T, Walker JD, Bell SK, Elmore JG.

Patient access to online visit notes: perceptions of doctors and patients at an urban HIV/AIDS clinic.

J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care. 2014 Apr 11 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Ralston JD, Cook AJ, Anderson ML, Catz SL, Fishman PA, Carlson J, Johnson R, Green BB.

Home blood pressure monitoring, secure electronic messaging and medication intensification for improving hypertension control: a mediation analysis.

Appl Clin Inform. 2014 Mar 12;5(1):232-48. doi: 10.4338/ACI-2013-10-RA-0079. eCollection 2014. PubMed

Lyles CR, Sarkar U, Ralston JD, Adler N, Schillinger D, Moffet HH, Huang ES, Karter AJ.

Patient-provider communication and trust in relation to use of an online patient portal among diabetes patients: The Diabetes and Aging Study.

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013 Nov-Dec;20(6):1128-31. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2012-001567. Epub 2013 May 15. PubMed