Health information technologies (HIT) have become nearly ubiquitous in the contemporary healthcare landscape, but information about HIT development, functionality, and implementation readiness is frequently siloed. Theory-driven methods of compiling, evaluating, and integrating information from the academic and commercial sectors are necessary to guide stakeholder decision-making surrounding HIT adoption and to develop pragmatic HIT research agendas. This article presents the Health Information Technologies-Academic and Commercial Evaluation (HIT-ACE) methodology, a structured, theory-driven method for compiling and evaluating information from multiple sectors. As an example demonstration of the methodology, we apply HIT-ACE to mental and behavioral health measurement feedback systems (MFS). MFS are a specific class of HIT that support the implementation of routine outcome monitoring, an evidence-based practice.
HIT-ACE is guided by theories and frameworks related to user-centered design and implementation science. The methodology involves four phases: (1) coding academic and commercial materials, (2) developer/purveyor interviews, (3) linking putative implementation mechanisms to hit capabilities, and (4) experimental testing of capabilities and mechanisms. In the current demonstration, phase 1 included a systematic process to identify MFS in mental and behavioral health using academic literature and commercial websites. Using user-centered design, implementation science, and feedback frameworks, the HIT-ACE coding system was developed, piloted, and used to review each identified system for the presence of 38 capabilities and 18 additional characteristics via a consensus coding process. Bibliometic data were also collected to examine the representation of the systems in the scientific literature. As an example, results are presented for the application of HIT-ACE phase 1 to MFS wherein 49 separate MFS were identified, reflecting a diverse array of characteristics and capabilities.
Preliminary findings demonstrate the utility of HIT-ACE to represent the scope and diversity of a given class of HIT beyond what can be identified in the academic literature. Phase 2 data collection is expected to confirm and expand the information presented and phases 3 and 4 will provide more nuanced information about the impact of specific HIT capabilities. In all, HIT-ACE is expected to support adoption decisions and additional HIT development and implementation research.