Rapid Assessment Process

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Rapid Assessment Process Also known by the acronym RAP is a Qualitative research method derived from traditional ethnography. It is used to quickly research and have an understanding of situations when there is not enough time for other more lengthy methods. It was defined by James Beebe in 2001 as intensive, team-based qualitative inquiry using triangulation, iterative data analysis and additional data collection to quickly develop a preliminary understanding of a situation from the insiders’ perspective.

RAP basics

Rap has two basic concepts that defines its relationship with traditional ethnography and allow results to be produced quickly

  • Intensive teamwork as part of the triangulation of data collection. The use of a variety of data sources, utilizing a multidisciplinary team of investigators from diverse backgrounds in combining direct observations with semi structured interviews and combining information collected in advance with the interview process. The data in RAP are words rather than numbers.
  • Intensive teamwork during the iterative process of data analysis and additional data collection. The RAP teams data collection begins and then progressively advances with information taken in advance and then progressively learns from information provided by semi structured interviews and direct observations.

Despite these concepts it is important to note that although RAP is a quick method to evaluate and obtain results, usually implementation requires several weeks.

RAP differences

RAP is different from quantitative studies in informatics because it is more inductive, subjective, and contextualized. Where quantitative informatics research is more deductive, objective, and generalized. RAP lends itself to the field of informatics well because unlike quantitive methods RAP done well can quickly get to many EHR/CDS issues quickly and easily. It is not a cure all, but can elucidate many problems and issues at a specific site with specific workflows.

There are 3 advantages of RAP.

  • RAP gives a view of the context or environment in which events are happening.
  • RAP allows neutral observation of events.
  • RAP permits flexibility to follow insights that are found during the research process.

Rapid Assessment Process for Clinical Informatics Interventions

Thought as a generalizable method of inquiry that can help to rapidly identify and assess a situation, RAP was adapted for its use in clinical informatics by Joan Ash and the Oregon based POET team [1], for the evaluation of clinical decision support systems (CDS) and Computerized physician order entry.(1)(2). RAP methodology is uniquely valuable in medical informatics, because it allows to make preliminary decision for the design and implementations.

Examples in Clinical informatics

- A Rapid Assessment Process for Clinical Informatics Interventions, Joan Ash and teams shows the use of RAP method to evaluate CDS in community hospitals. (1)

- Rapid assessment of clinical information systems in the healthcare setting: an efficient method for time-pressed evaluation, This papers shows the use of RAP methodology to evaluate clinical informatics interventions in health care during seven site visits to diverse community hospitals and primary care settings in the U.S.(3)

- Use of a Rapid Assessment Process to Compare Three Mobile Multifunction Devices for Nurses` Rounds, first use of the RAP methodology in Latin America. The work was done adapting RAP methods to evaluate a complex situation and compare mobile multifunction devices in a laboratory before implementation. It was lead by Joan Ash student, Damian Borbolla (4)

- A qualitative study of the activities performed by people involved in clinical decision support: recommended practices for success. Ash and team describes the activities performed by people involved in clinical decision support (CDS) at leading sites. (5)



  • - James Beebe (2001). Rapid Assessment Process: An Introduction. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, ISBN 0-7591-0012-8
  • - Joan Ash (2015). Rapid Assessment Process: Boot Camp, Portland OR. Held at Portland, OR Northwest Innovations Center at Veterans Hospital.


  • 1- A rapid assessment process for clinical informatics interventions. Ash, Joan S; Sittig, Dean F; McMullen, Carmit K; Guappone, Kenneth; Dykstra, Richard et al. (2008)AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium p. 26-30
  • 4-Alfredo Anibal Almerares, Damian Alberto Borbollaa, Bibiana Schachnerb , Enrique Stanziola, Daniel Luna,Fernan Gonzales Bernaldo de Quiroz -Use of a Rapid Assessment Process to Compare Three Mobile Multifunction Devices for Nurses` Rounds MEDINFO 2013 Proceedings of the 14th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics Series Studies in Health Technology and Informatics Volume 192, Published 2013 SBN 978-1-61499-288-2 (print) | 978-1-61499-289-9 (online)
  • 5- A qualitative study of the activities performed by people involved in clinical decision support: recommended practices for success. Wright, Adam; Ash, Joan S; Erickson, Jessica L; Wasserman, Joe; Bunce, Arwen et al.(2014)Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA vol. 21 (3)p. 464-72

Submitted by Alfredo Almerares

V 2. Submitted by Inho Kim