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 Senior 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

Tieu L, Schillinger D, Sarkar U, Hoskote M, Hahn KJ, Ratanawongsa N, Ralston JD, Lyles CR. Online patient websites for electronic health record access among vulnerable populations: portals to nowhere? J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016 Jul 8. pii: ocw098. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocw098. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bayliss EA, McQuillan DB, Ellis JL, Maciejewski ML, Zeng C, Barton MB, Boyd CM, Fortin M, Ling SM, Tai-Seale M, Ralston JD, Ritchie CS, Zulman DM. Using electronic health record data to measure care quality for individuals with multiple chronic medical conditions. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Jul 7. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14248. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bell SK, Mejilla R, Anselmo M, Darer JD, Elmore JG, Leveille S, Ngo L, Ralston JD, Delbanco T, Walker J. When doctors share visit notes with patients: a study of patient and doctor perceptions of documentation errors, safety opportunities and the patient-doctor relationship. BMJ Qual Saf. 2016 May 18. pii: bmjqs-2015-004697. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004697. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bush WS, Crosslin DR, Obeng AO, Wallace J, Almoguera B, Basford MA, Bielinski SJ, Carrell DS, Connolly JJ, Crawford D, Doheny KF, Gallego CJ, Gordon AS, Keating B, Kirby J, Kitchner T, Manzi S, Mejia AR, Pan V, Perry CL, Peterson JF, Prows CA, Ralston J, Scott SA, Scrol A, Smith M, Stallings SC, Veldhuizen T, Wolf W, Volpi S, Wiley K, Li R, Manolio T, Bottinger E, Brilliant MH, Carey D, Chisholm RL, Chute CG, Haines JL, Hakonarson H, Harley JB, Holm IA, Kullo IJ, Jarvik GP, Larson EB, McCarty CA, Williams MS, Denny JC, Rasmussen-Torvik LJ, Roden DM, Ritchie MD. Genetic variation among 82 pharmacogenes: the PGRN-Seq data from the eMERGE network. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Feb 9. doi: 10.1002/cpt.350. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

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The Weeds has health IT questions, we have answers

On a recent podcast from Vox, health policy commentators wondered why U.S. health IT isn’t better. Dr. James Ralston responds.

Read it in Healthy Findings.

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