Tech & Health

August 14, 2012

Flu Tool guides patient decision-making

Studies of Flu Tool, a computer application that guides health care decision-making, suggests that patients are willing to use these types of resources.

Electronic patient portals, such as MyHealthAtVanderbilt, give patients access to the health care system – to review medical records, manage medication and exchange messages with health care providers. There is little research evaluating the ability of such portals to deliver patient-targeted decision support.


S. Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics, and an interdisciplinary team developed Flu Tool, an application to enable patients with influenza-like illness to make informed decisions about the level of care they require. The team deployed a pilot version of Flu Tool for nine weeks during the 2010-2011 influenza season. During that time, Flu Tool was accessed 4040 times, and 1017 individual patients seen at Vanderbilt were diagnosed with influenza.

The early experience with Flu Tool suggests that individuals are willing to use patient-targeted decision support. The model and infrastructure supporting Flu Tool, described in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, are generalizable to other types of patient-targeted decision support.

This research was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS019276).