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

Van Driest SL, Wells QS, Stallings S, Bush WS, Gordon A, Nickerson DA, Kim JH, Crosslin DR, Jarvik GP, Carrell DS, Ralston JD, Larson EB, Bielinski SJ, Olson JE, Ye Z, Kullo IJ, Abul-Husn NS, Scott SA, Bottinger E, Almoguera B, Connolly J, Chiavacci R, Hakonarson H, Rasmussen-Torvik LJ, Pan V, Persell SD, Smith M, Chisholm RL, Kitchner TE, He MM, Brilliant MH, Wallace JR, Doheny KF, Shoemaker MB, Li R, Manolio TA, Callis TE, Macaya D, Williams MS, Carey D, Kapplinger JD, Ackerman MJ, Ritchie MD, Denny JC, Roden DM. Association of arrhythmia-related genetic variants with phenotypes documented in electronic medical records. JAMA. 2016;315(1):47-57. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.17701. PubMed

Leveille SG, Mejilla R, Ngo L, Fossa A, Elmore JG, Darer J, Ralston JD, Delbanco T, Walker J. Do patients who access clinical information on patient internet portals have more primary care visits? Med Care. 2015 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Herr TM, Bielinski SJ, Bottinger E, Brautbar A, Brilliant M, Chute CG, Cobb BL, Denny JC, Hakonarson H, Hartzler AL, Hripcsak G, Kannry J, Kohane IS, Kullo IJ, Lin S, Manzi S, Marsolo K, Overby CL, Pathak J, Peissig P, Pulley J, Ralston J, Rasmussen L, Roden DM, Tromp G, Uphoff T, Weng C, Wolf W, Williams MS, Starren J. Practical considerations in genomic decision support: the eMERGE experience. J Pathol Inform. 2015 Sep 28;6:50. doi: 10.4103/2153-3539.165999. eCollection 2015. PubMed

Lyles CR, Sarkar U, Schillinger D, Ralston JD, Allen JY, Nguyen R5 Karter AJ. Refilling medications through an online patient portal: consistent improvements in adherence across racial/ethnic groups. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2015 Sep 2. pii: ocv126. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocv126. [Epub ahead of print].

 

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