The U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. announced today that it will offer a $5 million award this year to support research related to COVID-19.
The new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is set to support novel, high-impact studies evaluating the responsiveness of healthcare delivery systems, healthcare professionals and the overall U.S. healthcare system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
HHS announced the FOA through the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), which expects to invest the $5 million for new multi-method, rapid-cycle research with the ability to produce and disseminate initial observations within six months following the award, then regularly throughout the remainder of the award period.
AHRQ noted that the funding will support critical research focused on quality, safety and value of the health system’s response to COVID-19, the role of primary care practices and professionals during this pandemic, understanding how the response affected socially vulnerable populations and the integration of digital health.
The last concept AHRQ expressed interest in includes the expansion of telehealth, which could experience seven-fold growth in the next five years, according to an analysis from Frost & Sullivan released yesterday.
“This funding will help us understand, as rapidly as we can, the ways in which our health systems were successful or challenged during the response to the COVID-19 virus,” HHS secretary Alex Azar said in a news release. “Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as we can is essential to maintaining an effective response and preventing future outbreaks. We are especially interested in understanding how our health systems met the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, how patient safety was protected and maintained, and how providers made use of President Trump’s huge expansion of telehealth and other digital health tools.”
AHRQ specified that the funding opportunity applies to relevant research in settings such as hospitals, primary care and other ambulatory care settings, pre-hospital care, long-term and nursing home care, home health care, mental health and substance use care, pharmacy and transitions of care between settings.
“The healthcare system is under tremendous stress trying to respond rapidly to the pandemic and is innovating across many aspects of health care delivery,” AHRQ director Gopal Khanna said. “AHRQ’s investment responds to the urgent need to understand what adjustments were and continue to be made by healthcare professionals and individual healthcare systems, and to evaluate the effectiveness of those adjustments, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”