Special Emphasis Notice: AHRQ Announces Interest in Career Development (K01, K02, K08) and Dissertation (R36) Grants focused on Health Information Technology (IT)

Notice Number: NOT-HS-08-014

Update: The following update relating to this Notice has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date:  September 8, 2008

Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Background: The mission of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare for all Americans.  AHRQ achieves this mission by supporting a broad program of health services research and by working with partners to promote improvements in clinical and health systems practices that benefit patients.

AHRQ’s Health Information Technology (IT) Portfolio is part of the Nation’s strategy to put information technology to work in health care.  By developing secure and private electronic health records for most Americans, and making health information available electronically when and where it is needed, health IT can improve the quality of care.
AHRQ intends to support research career development grants (K01, K02, and K08) and dissertation grants (R36) focusing on health information technology (health IT). 

Health IT is broadly defined as the use of information and communication technology in health care to support the delivery of patient or population care or to support patient self-management.  Health IT can support patient care related activities such as order communications, results reporting, care planning and clinical or health documentation Examples of health IT applications are electronic health records (EHR), electronic medical records (EMR), personal health records (PHR), telemedicine, clinical alerts and reminders, computerized provider order entry, computerized clinical decision support systems, consumer health informatics applications, and electronic exchange of health information.

Research Areas of Focus: These grants will support the career development of clinical and research doctorates focusing their research on one of three priority health IT research areas. Each application must clearly identify one of them as the primary research and/or career development area to be addressed.  Given the breadth of each of these research areas and the limitation on time and financial resources of a single career or dissertation grant, one grant is not expected to single-handedly address all elements of a health IT research area.  Rather, an applicant must describe how coursework, research, and/or mentorship, as appropriate, will provide a foundation and generate knowledge regarding elements of that research area.  The three health IT research areas are: 

  1. Health IT to improve the quality and safety of medication management; this includes the utilization of medication management systems and technologies; ambulatory health care providers and out-patient pharmacists’ use of electronic prescribing systems and/or medication management technologies; integration of evidence-based decision support for priority conditions within electronic prescribing systems; and, providing patients electronic tools to support medication self-management.

  2. Health IT to support patient-centered care; this includes, but is not limited to, a focus on the coordination of care across transitions in care settings and the use of electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care. Patient-centered care is responsive to the needs and preferences of individual patients, provides patients and/or their caregivers with access to their medical information, facilitates communication between patients, caregivers and providers, and empowers patients to be active participants in care decisions and in the daily management of their health and illnesses.

  3. Health IT to improve health care decision making; this includes the development, implementation, and integration of health information tools, products or systems through the use of integrated data and knowledge management. AHRQ encourages research projects and career development that will use health IT applications that apply principles to evidence based medicine including the use of the best available evidence, health care providers’ ability to execute their best judgment, and consideration of patients’ expressed treatment preferences. 

Settings:  Career development and dissertation research responsive to this SEN must focus on development, implementation or use of health IT in one or more of the following care settings: ambulatory setting(s); transitions in care between ambulatory settings; or transitions in care between an ambulatory setting and non-ambulatory setting.  For the purposes of this SEN, ambulatory care settings include: health care clinician offices; outpatient clinics;  outpatient mental health centers; outpatient substance abuse centers;  urgent care centers; ambulatory surgery centers; community-based, school, or occupational health centers; safety-net clinics; pharmacies; homes; independent living centers; and, long-term residential care facilities. 
Career development and dissertation research projects conducted in non-ambulatory settings such as a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or inpatient mental health facility for purposes other than facilitating transitions in care to and from an ambulatory setting are not of interest for this SEN.

Further guidance:

Use of Funding Mechanisms.  AHRQ will use its current career development mechanisms – the K01, K02, and K08 and its current dissertation grant mechanism –the R36.

Timeline Limitations.  Career development grant applications will be funded for 3-5 years.  Dissertation grant applications will be funded for 9 to 17 months.

Application Submission.  With this notice, AHRQ is providing information about one of the highest research priorities for unsolicited applications.  AHRQ will continue to provide regular updates of research priorities as research budget information becomes available.  Applications focused on areas identified in this SEN should be submitted on regular research career development or dissertation grant receipt dates and will be reviewed by AHRQ’s standing study sections.  Information about the grant application process, including e-grant applications and the funding mechanisms noted above, can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/.


Inquiries:  The AHRQ designated contacts for this SEN are:

AHRQ Health IT Program inquiries:
Angela Lavanderos
            Center for Primary Care, Prevention & Clinical Partnerships
            Phone:  301-427-1505
            E-mail: Angela.Lavanderos@ahrq.hhs.gov          

K01, K02, and K08 inquiries:

            Kay Anderson, Ph.D.
            Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations
            Phone:  301-427-1555
            E-mail:  Kay.Anderson@ahrq.hhs.gov

R36 inquiries:

Brenda A. Harding, MA
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Phone:  (301) 427-1527
Email: Brenda.Harding@ahrq.hhs.gov

Applicants are encouraged to contact the designated AHRQ staff early in the process of preparing applications in order to clarify questions and discuss potential research projects. 

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