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AHRQ Announces Health IT Research Funding Opportunities

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is sponsoring four research projects for better health IT design, implementation, and usability.

By Sara Heath

- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will be sponsoring research projects geared toward bettering health information technology, according to a public statement.

ahrq-health-it-research

Specifically, the agency seeks to support research for improving the safety of health IT to better inform policymakers at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

In total, the agency has published four funding opportunity announcements to which potential researchers may apply. These applicants must submit a project abstract and a list of specific project aims.

These four projects aim to improve health IT design and implementation. Despite several clinical benefits to health IT implementation, AHRQ maintains the technology can also produce some adverse results through its design and implementation and aims to reduce those kinds of errors through research.

There is a need for improved approaches to health IT system design, usability, and implementation; to understand how users interact with the systems; to carefully monitor the systems' use and performance post-implementation; and to understand how to address causes of errors. In addition, many have called for the use of user-centered design, and human factors and ergonomics, sociotechnical systems theory, human-computer engineering, usability engineering, and other related frameworks and approaches to improve health IT safety.

Thus, the research projects will center on health IT design, implementation, usability, and safe use of technology by both physicians and patients.

The technologies targeted through this research are wide in scope, including most traditional forms of health IT. These include EHRs, EMRs, telemedicine, computerized physician order entry, clinical decision support systems, consumer health informatics applications, and health information exchange platforms.

Applicants looking to partner with AHRQ must be doing user-centered research for patient-centered care uses of the technology.

Two of the projects must include health IT vendors and healthcare delivery organization personnel as project members. AHRQ also states that patient safety organization members are preferred in one of the projects, but that is not a requirement.

The project titles include:

  • Exploratory and Developmental Grant to Improve Health Care Quality through Health Information Technology (IT) (R21)
  • AHRQ Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grants (R18)
  • AHRQ Health Services Research Projects (R01)
  • AHRQ Small Research Grant Program (R03)

Although the applications are open to all potential participants, there are timeline and budgetary limitations, and application deadlines.

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