Current Digital Healthcare Research Priorities

Care Transitions

AHRQ has a long history of funding research to produce evidence and evidence-based tools to improve care transitions (e.g., Safe Transitions Toolkit, Chartbook on Care Coordination, Project RED Toolkit). As the digital healthcare ecosystem expands, more research is needed to ensure care transitions are high-quality, seamless, coordinated, and safe. AHRQ currently funds innovative digital healthcare research to improve the quality of care and health outcomes during care transitions.

Clinical Decision Support

Clinical decision support (CDS) has the ability to significantly impact improvements in quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has long supported efforts to develop, adopt, implement, and evaluate the use of CDS to improve healthcare decisionmaking.

Consumer-focused Digital Healthcare

Increasingly, innovative computer and information systems are being developed to help people manage health concerns, monitor important indicators of their health, and communicate with their caregivers. AHRQ supports research to determine how these patient-facing technologies can best improve the quality and effectiveness of care.

Patient-Reported Outcomes

While patient-reported outcomes (PROs) offer a complementary perspective to that of clinician assessments, and may provide greater insights into health status, function, symptom burden, adherence, health behaviors, and quality of life, many electronic health record systems do not collect PRO data in structured or standardized ways that can allow for their use. AHRQ currently funds research on how to collect and use PROs using digital methods, as well as to scale and spread existing digital models that currently incorporate PROs.


Research is needed in two key areas: how the digital healthcare ecosystem can improve patient safety and how components of it can be safely used and implemented. AHRQ-funded research provides critical evidence in both areas, and the Program recently renewed a special emphasis notice reaffirming the intent to support research regarding the safety of the digital healthcare ecosystem.


AHRQ’s usability research focuses on how to design and implement electronic health records (EHRs) so that they are more intuitive to use and more readily support clinical workflow. Two areas of research, supported by the AHRQ projects below, are how to effectively reduce documentation burden for physicians and how to make data within EHRs more usable for clinical decisionmaking.