Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), announced a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will award $5 million in fiscal year 2020 to support novel, high-impact studies that evaluate the responsiveness of health care delivery systems, health care professionals, and the overall U.S. health care system to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AHRQ expects to invest the $5 million for new multi-method, rapid-cycle research with the ability to produce and disseminate initial observations within 6 months after award and then regularly throughout the remainder of the award period.
“This funding will help us understand, as rapidly as we can, the ways in which our health systems were successful or challenged during the response to the COVID-19 virus,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as we can is essential to maintaining an effective response and preventing future outbreaks. We are especially interested in understanding how our health systems met the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, how patient safety was protected and maintained, and how providers made use of President Trump’s huge expansion of telehealth and other digital health tools.”
AHRQ expects to fund critical research focused on topics such as the effects on quality, safety, and value of the health system response to COVID-19; the role of primary care practices and professionals during the COVID-19 epidemic; understanding how the response to COVID-19 affected socially vulnerable populations and people with multiple chronic conditions; and the integration of digital health in the response to COVID-19, including innovations and challenges encountered in the expansion of telehealth.
“The healthcare system is under tremendous stress trying to respond rapidly to the pandemic and is innovating across many aspects of health care delivery,” said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A. “AHRQ’s investment responds to the urgent need to understand what adjustments were and continue to be made by healthcare professionals and individual healthcare systems, and to evaluate the effectiveness of those adjustments, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This funding opportunity is applicable for relevant research in all health care settings including hospitals, primary care and other ambulatory care settings, pre-hospital care, long-term and nursing home care, home health care, mental health and substance use care, pharmacy, and transitions of care between settings. AHRQ specifically highlights the need for research within four major areas:
- Improving the quality of care received and patient outcomes during and following the COVID-19 pandemic
- Improving healthcare patient safety during and following the COVID-19 pandemic
- Understanding how the response to COVID-19 affected socially vulnerable populations and people with multiple chronic conditions during and following the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Understanding how digital health innovations contributed to the health system response to COVID-19, outcomes, and unintended consequences