Forthcoming AHRQ funding to focus on patient safety

A new round of project funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will focus on providing strategies and tools for improving patient safety in ambulatory care and long-term care facilities.

The announcement doesn't stipulate an amount of money up for grabs, but says grants will not exceed $500,000 in any given year, and will not exceed $1.5 million for the entire project period. Projects may not exceed three years.

The agency has a specific interest in settings that serve underserved and vulnerable populations, which include Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), community health centers, safety-net hospital outpatient departments, physician offices and long-term care facilities. However, it's not open to studying problems associated with ambulatory surgery and dialysis centers.

There are approximately 1 billion outpatient visits each year in the United States, the announcement notes. Because patients generally receive care through multiple settings and providers, including lab and other tests and referrals to specialists, many factors may contribute to the challenges in ensuring patient safety in ambulatory settings.

Among the projects it's looking for:

  • Factors (human, system, and other) that contribute to medical errors
  • Approaches for improving coordination, continuity of care and patient safety
  • Creation of evidence-based tools to facilitate implementation of these strategies
  • Studies examining transitions between long-term care facilities and inpatient and outpatient settings
  • Studies that demonstrate the ability to spread new evidence-based systems that prevent adverse events

Research may include new or existing technologies, such as electronic health records to aid in preventing adverse events, and "low technology" approaches that provide new tools.

Eligible organizations include public or non-profit private institutions, such as a university, college, or a faith-based or community-based organization; federal, state and local governments; Indian/Native American tribes and tribally designated organizations.

Applications will be accepted Jan. 5-March 6.

AHRQ has funded a number of research initiatives, including the use of clinical registries to improve patient care, the creation of a clinical decision support (CDS) learning network, and improving efforts to prevent infection.

However, it needs to better disseminate the information being generated to comply with the Affordable Care Act, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

To learn more:
- read the announcement