AHRQ to establish division, fund opportunities to enhance digital health

By | January 15, 2020

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is launching a new Division of Digital Healthcare Research and offering funding opportunities, starting with supporting care transitions.

The new initiatives will support efforts to improve the use of data, among other healthcare opportunities.

“We are at the beginning of a digital revolution in healthcare, and it’s an exciting time with the potential for innovative whole-person care, data-and evidence-based solutions and improvements in health system performance,” says Gopal Khanna, director at AHRQ, in a blog posting.

AHRQ is taking a new look at the mission and status of its digital activities, starting with establishment of the Division of Digital Healthcare Research. “This Division will support AHRQ’s aim to explore the enormous potential of data and the digitalization of everything to support the knowledge needs of providers, health systems, policymakers and people,” he contends.

Digital healthcare will apply to activities such as the transfer of information between patient and provider throughout the journey of every patient, as well as intelligently using all related data, Khanna says.

He believes there is a pressing need for researchers to explore how the evolving digital healthcare ecosystem can best advance quality, safety, and effectiveness of care for patients and families.

“In the coming months, we expect AHRQ’s efforts in digital healthcare research to yield new important insights by generating new digital healthcare knowledge and tools that are sharable, standards-based, publicly available and whole-person oriented,” Khanna, contends.

Technology enables care to be available to everyone, with the potential to create new discoveries and redefine the marketplace, he believes. However, advances in care delivery are only possible if people, processes and technologies that receive data from new sources are able to make sense of the data and use it to make informed decisions.

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For example, the Internet of Things, which is capable of automatically generating data on medication management, and personal health trackers for tracking steps and sleep patterns, compels the next generation of digital health to integrate multiple data streams to form a complete understanding of behavior.

However, transformation won’t happen without active participation of patients, providers, insurers and policymakers, Khanna notes. The challenge includes linking new and existing data streams to support advanced analytics to bring about value-based care.

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