Touchscreen questionnaire patient data collection in rheumatology practice: Development of a highly successful system using process redesign


  • The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views or recommendations of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the Department of Health and Human Services.



While questionnaires have been developed to capture patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in rheumatology practice, these instruments are not widely used. We developed a touchscreen interface designed to provide reliable and efficient data collection. Using the touchscreen to obtain PROs, we compared 2 different workflow models implemented separately in 2 rheumatology clinics.


The Plan-Do-Study-Act methodology was used in 2 cycles of workflow redesign. Cycle 1 relied on off-the-shelf questionnaire builder software, and cycle 2 relied on a custom programmed software solution.


During cycle 1, clinic 1 (private practice model, resource replete, simple flow) demonstrated a high completion rate at the start, averaging between 74% and 92% for the first 12 weeks. Clinic 2 (academic model, resource deficient, complex flow) did not achieve a consistent completion rate above 60%. The revised cycle 2 implementation protocol incorporated a 15-minute “nurse visit,” an instant messaging system, and a streamlined authentication process, all of which contributed to substantial improvement in touchscreen questionnaire completion rates of ∼80% that were sustained without the need for any additional clinic staff support.


Process redesign techniques and touchscreen technology were used to develop a highly successful, efficient, and effective process for the routine collection of PROs in a busy, complex, and resource-depleted academic practice and in typical private practice. The successful implementation required both a touchscreen questionnaire, human behavioral redesign, and other technical solutions.