Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Awards MedStar Health

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Awards MedStar Health Almost $1 Million Grant to Lead a Telehealth Research Alliance with Two Other Top Health Systems

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Senior African American woman using a smart phone app to consult with a doctor in real time while sitting at home

Today MedStar Health announced launching a two-year telehealth research collaboration with Intermountain Healthcare and Stanford Health Care this month thanks to a nearly $1 million R01 grant award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The team will study and address technology used to access U.S. primary care surrounding COVID-19 and any health disparities by analyzing related data across these three health systems that have collectively offered 4.5 million primary care appointments in a year.

R01 awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are among the most prestigious grant types, and this marks the first R01 that will be co-led by the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center, part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation.

“As the initial surges of COVID-19 have massively disrupted traditional modes of care delivery, telehealth has helped us effectively bridge many potential gaps in care—especially in primary care—and we want to ensure that’s true in as many populations as possible,” said the grant’s co-principal investigator (PI) Ethan Booker, MD, medical director of MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center and MedStar eVisit. “Given the exponential growth of telehealth over this period, we now have an enormous amount of data that can help us inform policy and better invent the future. It will be a far greater opportunity for all if we share, expand, and apply what we’ve learned within the U.S. health system more broadly, which the AHRQ grant will help us achieve.”

In the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, outpatient telehealth visits at MedStar Health climbed from around seven to 4,500 per day at peak. To date, the system has delivered more than 600,000 telehealth sessions overall, with around 30% of primary care visits shifting to video.

This research will evaluate U.S. sub-populations’ primary care access and avenues, including virtual options such as telehealth video-based and phone-based visits, text messages, and patient portal messages. The team aims to disseminate findings and recommendations through journal publications, policy briefings, and other stakeholder outreach.

Raj Ratwani, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs, MedStar Health Research Institute and director, MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, is serving as co-PI in leading the seventh R01 award for the human factors center.

Read more in the MedStar Health press release.