AHRQ has invested in grants and contracts to more than 200 communities, hospitals, providers and healthcare systems in 48 states to promote access to and encourage the adoption of health IT. These projects constitute a real-world laboratory for examining health IT at work. They aim to:
help clinicians provide higher quality, safer health care;
put the patient at the center of healthcare;
identify the most successful approaches and barriers to health IT implementation; and
make the business case for health IT by evaluating costs and benefits.
These investments in local communities across the nation have paid off. AHRQ has accumulated a wealth of examples that demonstrate health IT's value, both financially and clinically. And, AHRQ and its community of contractors and grantees have developed tools to help health care organizations plan for, implement and evaluate health IT. These tools describe and recommend strategies for addressing some of the common challenges organizations encounter when working with health IT systems. They include evaluation toolkits for health IT and health information exchange; a costs and benefits database; and a guide to help developers and purchasers of health IT reach adults with limited literacy.
In 2004, AHRQ established its National Resource Center (NRC) for Health IT as a way to coordinate the Agency's efforts to develop and disseminate evidence and evidence-based tools. Initially conceived as a means of communicating and delivering technical assistance to AHRQ's grantees, the NRC has become a valued public resource for sharing research findings, best practices, lessons learned and funding opportunities with health IT researchers, implementers and policymakers. Its web site, http://healthit.ahrq.gov, serves as a central source for information on AHRQ-funded projects and other valuable resources.
The case studies that can be found on the NRC's web site offer a template for success that bears examination on how all stakeholders can move forward. AHRQ has a long and successful track record of convening and working with other stakeholders to advance the best ideas. AHRQ has extensive experience in developing grant opportunities and identifying specific needs and requirements to support research needs. It also has a strong record in communicating and working with the health community at the clinical level and has worked closely with the vendor community on the usability of electronic health records.