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

Saberi P, Catz SL, Leyden WA, Stewart C, Ralston JD, Horberg MA, Grothaus L, Silverberg MJ.

Antiretroviral therapy adherence and use of an electronic shared medical record among people living with HIV.

AIDS Behav. 2015 Jan 9 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Kendall L, Eschler J, Lozano P, McClure JB, Vizer LM, Ralston JD, Pratt W.

Engineering for reliability in at-home chronic disease management.

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2014. 777-86.

Overby CL, Rasmussen LV, Hartzler A, Connolly JJ, Person JF, Hedberg RE, Freimuth RR, Shirts BH, Denny JC, Larson EB, Chute CG, Jarvik GP, Ralston JD, Shuldiner AR, Starren J, Kullo IJ, Tarczy-Hornoch P, Williams MS.

A template for authoring and adapting genomic medicine content in the eMERGE infobutton project.

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2014 Nov;17;2014:944-53. eCollection 2014.

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