AHRQ launches an app to help patients prepare for doctor visits

AHRQ Question Builder

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) launched a new mobile app to help patients be more engaged in their own healthcare. Called Question Builder app, it is available for free for smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers on iTunes and Google Play, helping patients prepare and organize questions and other helpful information prior to medical visits.

Based on content from an online tool that is part of AHRQ’s long-running Questions Are the Answer public education campaign, the app was developed with input from consumers and clinicians. Consumers liked the ability to have questions and other information at their fingertips during medical visits, while doctors, nurses, and other clinicians said that better prepared patients would lead to more effective and efficient visits and potentially more accurate diagnoses and better outcomes.

“AHRQ’s new question builder app helps patients and providers get the most out of each and every patient visit by using information to achieve the best outcomes for patients,” AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A. said in a statement. “As Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has made clear, we must create a healthcare system that pays for value. Nothing is more valuable than maximizing the time patients and providers spend together.”

The Question Builder app allows users to input details of their upcoming appointments, such as date and reason for the visit. Users can then choose questions they want to ask their doctor, starting with a list to prompt them with questions that are common in different situations. Questions can be customized to fit individual needs, and once done – users can email information to themselves or others for reference through the app and can use it to make notes during the medical visit.

The content and questions are organized by type of medical encounter, such as medical visit or preparing for surgery. Also included are consumer education materials and videos about the importance of asking questions and sharing information; and finally there’s the camera option that allows users to document visual information such as a skin rash, upload insurance or prescription medication information, and other photo-enabled features.

Information entered into the Question Builder app resides on the user’s own device. The content is accessible via phone, tablet, or laptop computer on both the iOS and Android operating systems.

With most U.S. medical visits averaging 20 minutes or less, the Question Builder app helps patients maximize the value of the time they have with their healthcare providers. The app is being released in conjunction with Patient Safety Awareness Week, an annual health observance sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement intended to encourage everyone to learn more and remain vigilant about healthcare safety.