This notice announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Center (TF RHRC) Program. This NOFO will fund two Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Centers, one evaluation-focused and one evidence-focused. The purpose of the evaluation-focused TF RHRC is to conduct and maintain a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of nationwide telehealth investments in rural areas and populations. This comprehensive evaluation will explore the impact of telehealth investments on rural areas and populations, to include an assessment of access, cost, experience, and effectiveness for patients and providers. This research will assist decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels by examining the impact of investments of telehealth services in rural communities on access to health care, population health/health indicators, health care spending (both for payers and for the patients receiving the services), quality of care, value based care, workforce, business strategy, and clinical delivery of care. By evaluating the impact of investments in rural telehealth services, the evaluation-focused TF RHRC will directly inform improvements in health care access and population health for rural America. The purpose of the evidence-focused TF RHRC is to conduct clinically informed and policy-relevant health services research to expand the evidence base for rural telehealth services. This research will assist rural health providers and decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels by examining the impact of telehealth services in rural communities on access to health care, population health/health indicators, health care spending (both for payers and for the patients receiving the services), quality of care, value based care, and clinical delivery of care. The research may also assess the comparative effectiveness of specific telehealth services relative to in-person services in the same clinical area, examine the impact of health care policies on the provision of telehealth services, and analyze the cost effectiveness of telehealth services. Potential areas of interest include tele-emergency services, tele-behavioral health services (including substance use treatment services), and remote patient monitoring. By contributing to the evidence base for rural telehealth services, this evidence-focused TF RHRC will directly inform improvements in health care access and population health for rural America. The recipients will conduct policy-oriented health services research, update trend analyses and existing research, and conduct necessary literature reviews on rural issues and synthesize the issues into publically available policy briefs that are easy to understand by a non-technical audience. In addition to primary and secondary research, the applicant must be willing and able to conduct literature syntheses, develop evaluation or performance measures, and update existing research to produce timely and relevant information. The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and the recipients will negotiate the ratio of original research to other needed projects. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines the term “health services research” as research that examines “how people get access to health care, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a result of this care.” The main goals of health services research are to “identify the most effective ways to organize, manage, finance, and deliver high quality care; reduce medical errors, and improve patient safety.”1 The TF RHRC Program provides support for two (2) four-year research centers with a concentration on telehealth (one with a focus on evidence and one with a focus on evaluation) specifically to provide infrastructure to support telehealth services researchers as they explore the complexities of telehealth issues. Research funded under these cooperative agreements will be publically available on the Rural Health Research Gateway https://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/). These cooperative agreements do not support biomedical research or the delivery of health care services.
Eligible applicants include domestic public or private, non-profit entities. Domestic faith-based and community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations are also eligible to apply.