AHRQ Announces Interest in Research on Health IT Safety

Notice Number: NOT-HS-15-005

Key Dates
Release Date: January 27, 2015

Related Announcements

Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)


This Special Emphasis Notice (SEN) informs the research community that in fiscal year 2015 the Health IT Portfolio at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) intends to support research regarding the safety of health IT systems.

AHRQ’s Health IT Portfolio

AHRQ's Health IT Portfolio develops and disseminates evidence to inform policy and practice on how health information technology can improve the quality of health care.

What is Health IT?

Health information technology (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. Health IT applications or systems can use a variety of platforms, such as desktop computer applications, tablet computer applications, cellular phones, smart phones, touch screen kiosks, and others. Examples of health IT applications or systems include electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs), telemedicine, computerized provider order entry (CPOE), computerized clinical decision support (CDS) systems, consumer health informatics applications (including personal health records [PHRs]), and electronic exchange of health information. Health IT applications or systems of interest to AHRQ under this SEN must support patient care related activities as described.

Research Areas of Interest

While health IT has been shown to improve health care quality and safety, recent research suggests that it may also potentially cause new errors (i.e., technology induced errors). In particular, the design (including usability) and implementation of health IT systems can impact how the systems are used and lead to errors. 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.

AHRQ is interested in funding applications that will conduct research on safe health IT practices specifically related to the design, implementation, usability, and safe use of health IT by all users, including patients. These projects would generate new evidence on safe health IT practices that could be used by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and others to inform health IT certification and other forms of policy guidance.

R01 projects should include personnel from health IT vendors and health care delivery organizations in the project personnel. Patient Safety Organization involvement in R01 projects is strongly encouraged, as is industry partnership.

Further Guidance

Applicants must clearly state in the Project Summary (abstract) and in the Specific Aims sections of the grant application that they are responding to this particular SEN (NOT-HS-15-005).

Use of Funding Mechanisms. AHRQ will use its standing health IT-focused R21 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and standing R01 FOA to support applications submitted in response to this Notice.

The health IT-focused R21 FOA, PA-14-001, can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-001.html; and the standing R01 FOA, PA-14-291, can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-291.html.

Limitations on Timelines and Funds.
AHRQ currently limits the total (direct plus indirect) costs for health IT-focused R21 grant applications to no more than $200,000 in any given year and $300,000 for the entire project period. The project period can be up to two years.

AHRQ currently limits the total (direct plus indirect) costs for the R01 mechanism to no more than $250,000 per year. The project period for large projects can be up to five years.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Amy Lindinha
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Telephone: 301-427-1505
Email: HealthITFunding@ahrq.hhs.gov