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Quality Measurement and Improvement: AHCPR Call for Applications

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Press Release Date: June 15, 1997

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research is seeking applications for research and evaluation projects in clinical quality measurement and improvement. This request for applications (RFA)—published in the June 13 NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts (Volume 26, Number 20)—will provide the essential science base for the development of quality tools to measure the effects of rapid changes in the delivery of health services. This RFA builds on AHCPR's long history of supporting innovative projects that have helped to improve the quality of health care services. In 1996, AHCPR funded the Q-Span (Expansion of Quality Measures) project to improve existing quality measures and fill gaps where measures are needed.

"HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala has made a commitment to ensure that the American health care system provides the highest quality health care," said AHCPR Administrator John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "To that end, she has designated AHCPR as the lead agency for a department-wide initiative that has as one of its goals to promote research to improve quality."

AHCPR requests grant applications in three priority areas:

  1. Methods and Measures. Better methods and measures are needed to improve quality. Important areas include development and testing of outcomes measures and severity adjustment methods, and refinement and expansion of health and functional status and health-related quality of life. Research also is needed in relatively unexplored issues such as timeliness of care; the importance of communication in quality of care; and the translation of information about quality of care into health care management.
  2. Organizational Change and Quality Measurement and Improvement. Research is needed to incorporate new methods and measures effectively into ongoing health care programs and to determine how health care measurement can lead to improved care in a variety of settings. Organization and system issues include how different approaches to designing and implementing quality improvement interventions work in and across health care delivery settings. AHCPR would like to form partnerships with the private sector—employers, payers and providers—to examine ways to improve quality; AHCPR would fund the evaluation of these collaborative projects.
  3. Using Quality-related Information. Research is needed on how information on quality affects decisionmaking at various levels of the health care system. Research issues include how the use of information on quality improves the ability of patients, providers, employees, employers, health care purchasers and health plans to work together effectively.

AHCPR is especially interested in projects that will produce results within one to two years, although projects of up to five years' duration will be considered. AHCPR plans to make approximately $2 million available in fiscal year 1998 for the RFA, providing first year support of up to 10 awards of differing amounts. The application receipt date is Sept. 16 and the first possible award date is Jan. 1, 1998.

AHCPR has identified the following priority populations as a special focus for research under this RFA: minority groups; women; children; persons with chronic diseases or disabilities; and the elderly.

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (; Salina V. Prasad, (301) 427-1864 (

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