Download the 2020 Year in Review Report (PDF, 8.5 MB)

Program Background

What We Do

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the quality and safety of America's healthcare system. AHRQ invests in evidence-generating research and translates research findings into practice to achieve the following goals:

Elements of digital healthcare ecosystem

  1. Keep patients safe and improve their health.
  2. Help health professionals improve healthcare quality.
  3. Generate data to track, evaluate, and improve the healthcare system.

The AHRQ Digital Healthcare Research Program supports these goals by funding and disseminating research evidence about how the evolving digital healthcare ecosystem can best advance the quality, safety, and effectiveness of healthcare for patients and their families. The term “digital healthcare” applies to activities involving the transfer of information between patient and provider throughout the entire patient journey as well as the intelligent use of all related data. The program invests in research grants and contracts awarded to researchers working across the country.

The evolution of technology and digitization of data can make care available to people everywhere. Increasingly, digital healthcare supports patients in managing their conditions, coordinating their care, and partnering with their clinicians for better health. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic forced society to shut down, disrupting healthcare access and rapidly changing the way healthcare was provided. While telehealth technologies have long provided access to care for patients in rural and underserved communities, telehealth became a lifeline for care during the pandemic, bolstered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with private insurers, allowing payment for telehealth visits. Further, mobile health (mHealth) and other technologies that enable patient-generated health data collection and reporting to providers allowed providers to remotely access information on patient’s health status, conditions, and symptoms, allowing patients to remain safely in their homes, and providers to monitor patients remotely. Even before the pandemic, AHRQ has long invested in telehealth research, mHealth to support patients in engagement and decision making in their own care, and how to effectively integrate patient-reported health data into workflow to guide healthcare providers’ decisions related to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term care.

We were proud to continue funding digital healthcare research during the pandemic to contribute to the evidence base on improving patient-centered care, supporting clinicians and other healthcare professionals in providing health services, and sharing health information across technologies and healthcare environments to leverage data and technology to strengthen health systems.