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AHRQ to Fund Patient Safety Learning Laboratories

January 19, 2018
by David Raths
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Up to eight teams will identify threats to diagnostic or treatment efforts associated with a high burden of harm and cost

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ) plans to spend up to $5 million in fiscal 2018 to support as many as eight patient safety learning laboratories, where cross-disciplinary teams identify threats to diagnostic or treatment efforts associated with a high burden of harm and cost.

AHRQ’s request for grant applications notes that although advances that have been made in infection control, medication safety, health information technology, teamwork and safety culture, “no one is completely satisfied with the extent of progress. As fine as the achievements have been, they are not the norm. Much of the progress has occurred at well-resourced and culturally receptive institutions. Further efforts are needed for improvements to be more widespread and better integrated into the fabric and structure of clinical work nationwide.”

AHRQ expects the learning laboratories will be able to stretch professional boundaries, envision innovative designs, and take advantage of brainstorming and rapid prototyping techniques that other leading industries employ.  “Promising prototypes undergo further develop-test-revise iterations, and subsequent integration as a working system,” according to its request for applications. “After further improvements are made to the integrated working system, its efficacy is evaluated in a realistic simulated or clinical setting.”

In addition to long-recognized patient safety issues, AHRQ also said it is interested in grant applications that address the diagnostic as well as the treatment sides of medicine.

To provide some rudimentary structure to the design and development projects to be undertaken, AHRQ is requiring the labs use a methodology (problem analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) that is a simplification of the successive phases that larger-scale systems engineering projects entail.  

Applications are due by March 26, 2018. Application budgets are limited to $625,000 total costs (including direct and indirect costs) in any given year.



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