Lecture:  Assessing Information Needs


Assigned Reading

  1. "Assessing Information Needs" in Gustafson DH, Cats-Baril WL, Alemi F. Systems to Support Health Policy Analysis: Theory, Models, and Uses, Health Administration Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1992 (Revised 2006).   Read► Listen► Slides►
  2. Coletta Dorado, CEO and Founder of Azzly Inc.  Bio► Slides► Azzly EHR► Encounter►

Narrated slides and videos require Flash.  Download►

What do you know?

Advanced learners like you, often need different ways of understanding a topic. Reading is just one way of understanding. Another way is through writing about what you have read.  The following questions get you to think more about the concepts taught in this session.

  1. Which of the following is important in conducting a needs assessment?
      (a) Focus on the future and not current needs
      (b) Assess the importance of information items within decisions
      (c) Ask decision makers to rate relative importance of information
      (d) Engage external experts
      (e) Assess needs of groups of decision makers and not individual decision makers

  2. What are the steps in the proposed method of conducting needs assessment?

  3. Consider the following ratings for the need for information and indicate which piece of information should be collected regularly by the computer and which other pieces of information should be planned for but not collected right away.  You Tube►
    Information Item Purchase physician profiling system Purchase
    an EHR
    Contract with a
    firm to assess

    Impact on cost of care 7 6 5
    Impact on quality of care 2 5 7
    Reputation of the firm 7 5 7
    Sources of funds 2 1 2
    Table:  Ratings of Need for Information Items

Do One Assignment:  Assess Future Information Needs

Assess future information needs of a decision maker using the procedures described in this section.   

  1. Identify a decision maker (could be a colleague in class).  Collect data on this person's information needs. 

  2. Identify at least 3 upcoming decisions that the person faces roughly 6 months from now.

  3. For each decision, identify at least 4 pieces of information that will make a difference in the decision

  4. Collate information items that you have identified in general categories of information. 

  5. Ask your decision maker and an external expert to rate the relative importance of information items on a scale from 1 to 7.

  6. Analyze data and recommend why certain information should be included in a computerized system and other pieces of information should not. 

  7. Provide a written word document.  Make sure the following topics are included:

    1. Title: The title should include title of your presentation

    2. Decisions:  List of decisions should provide the decisions the person makes and their importance. 

    3. Methods & sources:  This section should describe how needs were assessed and on what basis decisions were made to include some information or exclude others.  Particular attention should be made to distinguishing between what people want and what they need to be successful.

    4. Results:  This section should describe the information needs of the person at a certain point in time (e.g. within the next 2 years).   Be clear and concise. 

    5. Introspection should provide your assessment of what went well and what needs improvement in your method of need assessment.  This is where you express your opinion about the method and not about the specific findings of your effort. 

  8. Here is the rubric the instructor uses for grading:

    • Presentation
      1. What looked unusually well?
      2. Were the sections requested present?  If there were more or less than the expected slides were the slides presented all necessary? 
      3. Was the narration clear?  Was the sound quality reasonable?
      4. Were the graphics self-contained and informative.  Would one have understood the graphs and the bulleted points, if the narration was not present?
      5. Was the use of color judicious and able to highlight major points?
    • Content
      1. What worked well?
      2. Did the project select an outside expert and focus on a decision maker?  Does it appear that the project was realistic or an exercise for the sake of class only.
      3. Was the project focused on future decisions?  Was there a specific attempt to list future decisions?
      4. Did the project ask the expert and the decision maker to rate the usefulness of the information on a scale?  In particular, was there a numerical rating of usefulness of information item in a decision?
      5. Did the project assign 0 rating to items that were relevant in one but not another decision?  Decision makers and experts do not mention irrelevant pieces of information.  Since different items are listed, some of these are likely to be irrelevant in some decisions.  Many students forget to assign 0 to the piece of information that is completely irrelevant to the decision. 
      6. Did the project correctly analyze the mean and variance (range) of the ratings?  Many students make a mistake of taking the mean across information items; the correct approach is take the mean across decisions.  The goal  is to find if the information item is needed across many decisions.  When the mean is high and the range is small, then the information item has been rated as high for all decisions.
      7. Did the project identify what is needed across decisions and what is needed in some but not other decisions? 
      8. Did the project provide introspections about the method of needs assessment?  Note that students are expected to discuss the method of needs assessment and not the particular results in this project. 
  9. See sample student work (not necessarily the best work): 

  10. Brief lecture by Sarah Brallier Video


For additional information (not part of the required reading), please see the following links:

  1. Physician Quality Reporting System More►
  2. Survey tool Download►
  3. Ken Rubin's lecture on real world EHR systems(31 minutes)  Listen►
  4. Recent studies on assessing information needs Search►
  5. Kartick Patel translates the lecture into Chichewa (Malawi's national language) Listen►

This page is part of the course on Information Systems.   This page was edited by Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D.  ęCopyright protected.