AHRQ hires focus groups to push consumers toward health IT

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has proposed the use of focus groups to learn about consumer awareness and perceptions of health IT and how to engage consumers in development of IT applications, which the agency published in the Dec. 28 issue of the Federal Register.

The agency said it expects the focus groups will cost approximately $257,500; most of that awarded to a contractor to manage the program.

“AHRQ has so far invested significant resources in initiatives to promote the planning and development of new health IT that should improve healthcare, lower healthcare costs and improve patient safety,” according to the AHRQ notice. “For such benefits to be maximized, it is important to understand how consumers view health IT and how to engage them in the design and implementation of future innovations.”

AHRQ, an agency of the Department of Health & Human Services, said it plans to conduct 20 focus groups with consumers who have a wide range of healthcare experiences and who are covered by a range of insurance plans. Some groups, for instance, will include only consumers enrolled in an HMO, the agency said.