Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Holidays from AHRQ

The Agency for Health Research and Quality will award almost $26 million in grants to support various approaches to improving quality and safety of care through health IT. The Ambulatory Safety and Quality Program is looking at 4 angles on how health IT can be used to improve quality:

Crank through the numbers and you get an average grant size of between $300K-$400K for 70-100 grants. The applications are due Feb 15.

These grants can be tricky because they can be money-losing if you're not careful -- you typically need to have considerable infrastructure in place already just to break-even. That said, AHRQ is the only real source of federal funds for many health IT initiatives across the country. The woefully under-funded Office of the National Coordinator typically gets only $100 million or so per year, none of which goes to local iniatives.

So even though the economics are questionable at best for many if not most potential applicants, they don't have anywhere else to go. With 165 health initiatives across the country scrambling for funding (according to the last count by eHI), competition for these AHRQ grants is expected to be especially fierce this round. If you have a family member involved in health IT and/or health quality research (and the Boston area has more of these folks than any other part of the country), you'll now understand why they might seem a little distracted over the holidays.

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