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Research at the Ministry of Health

Applied Health Research Question Program

An Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the entire Ontario health system.

Ministry-Funded Research Organizations/Programs/Projects

Research organizations/programs/projects funded by the Ministry of Health, through the Tailored Evidence Supports Stream of the Applied Health Evidence Program (AHEP), field Applied Health Research Questions from the broader health care system. For AHRQ contacts see the funded research organizations/programs/projects.

If questions cannot be answered by the ministry-funded organizations/programs/projects listed below, the RAEB may be able to provide assistance in identifying other research providers. Please contact the Research Planning and Management Unit at ResearchUnit@Ontario.ca for further information.

Research Provider Contact List

Program Name Review Brief Description ConfirmAHRQ Contact
ICES ICES is an independent not-for-profit research institute made up of a highly accomplished community of research, data, clinical and health system experts who work in a network of seven sites across Ontario. ICES collaborates with data custodians, government, policy makers, health system stakeholders and members of the public to secure data and generate trusted evidence to improve health care. ICES is entrusted with and provides secure access to health-related data for Ontario’s population, including population-based health surveys, anonymous patient records, administrative and clinical databases, and holdings of non-health related data such as indicators of the social determinants of health. ICES supports health system priorities such as evaluation, research, and data and analytic supports for Ontario Health Teams, Ontario Health, Ontario Medical Association negotiations, mental health and addictions transformation, and Indigenous health. Lisa Ishiguro
Email: ahrq@ices.on.ca
Rapid Improvement Support and Exchange (RISE) McMaster University (in partnership with Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Trillium Health Partners) RISE is the main partner providing Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) at all stages with rapid learning and improvement supports. This includes supporting collaboratives and coaching, convening events like stakeholder dialogues and preparing products like RISE briefs, sharing tools and resources through a dedicated RISE website, webinars and newsletters, and supporting the COVID-19 response with rapid-evidence profiles and with resources like the inventory of ‘best evidence syntheses’.

Heather Bullock

Email: bullochl@mcmaster.ca
Patient Engagement and Evaluation (Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis [CHEPA]) McMaster University The patient engagement program team will co-create a patient engagement evaluation framework, indicators, guidance documents, tools and iKT activities for stakeholders (Ontario Health, OHTs, etc.) via a working group of patient advisors (patients, caregivers, family), academics and health system partners.

Julia Abelson

Email: abelsonj@mcmaster.ca

ADVANCE (Accountability, shareD leadership and goVernANCE)

University of Toronto
The ADVANCE program team will provide collaborative leadership training and coaching at all stages of the OHT trajectory to enable teams to advance their shared decision-making.

Ross Baker

Email: ross.baker@utoronto.ca
Ontario Health Teams Central Evaluation and Supports; evaluation of Bundled Care and Health Links (Health System Performance Network [HSPN]) University of Toronto HSPN will undertake rapid cycle evaluations of implementation on site to inform OHT candidate’s real-time decisions and provide a comparative evaluation to demonstrate performance of the integrated care model across the Province. HSPN will supply learning supports, resources and guidance materials to OHTs to improve implementation. HSPN will undertake evaluation of Bundled Care for Hip and Knee Replacements and evaluation of Health Links using the Provincial Registry of Health Links enrolled patients to assess whether programs have achieved health system goals.

Natasha Kachan

Email: n.kachan@alum.utoronto.ca

Primary Health Care Supports; (INnovations Supporting PrImary Healthcare through Research [INSPIRE-PHC]) Queen’s University INSPIRE-PHC supports collaboration and vertical integration between primary health care (PHC) and health system and social care sectors, facilitates rapid early stage evaluation of PHC renewal initiatives, links PHC capacity to population health needs, and supports emerging OHTs with analysis customized to their area/populations of focus.

Eliot Frymire

Email: frymire@queensu.ca

Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN); high cost drugs and beneficiaries, opioids

St. Michael’s Hospital
ODPRN will expand its network of knowledge users to include OHT candidates; respond to OHT specific projects under an expanded Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) program. Two research priority areas (opioids and high cost drug beneficiaries) will support OHTs in their understanding of population health costs and their drivers.

Samantha Singh

Email: Samantha.Singh@unityhealth.to

Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) Guidelines

The funding agreements established by the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch through the Applied Health Research Program (AHEP) require most research institutes, centres, programs, and projects to set aside a portion of their annual MOH research funding towards Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs).

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy, and program development that will benefit the broader Ontario health care system.

The AHRQ process:

  • Facilitates the direct interaction and dialogue between policy makers, providers, development/planning staff and researchers.
  • Identifies research needs and gaps in research evidence across the health care system.
  • Informs priority setting for research projects by supporting research within these areas.
  • Disseminates research findings broadly.

Principles

  • Research Excellence – The AHRQ process and its participants strive for excellence in research.
  • Relevance – Questions must address an identified research need or gap that will directly or indirectly benefit (i.e., provide research evidence to) agents and service providers in the Ontario health care system.
  • Collaboration – Areas of research need and questions are initiated by Knowledge Users; however, the specific research scope and question are defined through collaboration by Knowledge Users and the Research Providers.
  • Accessibility and Knowledge Translation – Summaries of synthesized and new research evidence stemming from the AHRQ process are made accessible upon request to a broad audience.

Participants

  • Knowledge Users: Individuals representing Ontario organizations that are seeking research evidence to inform planning, the provision of services, policy and/or program development in health and the health care system.
  • Research Providers: Research institutes, centres, programs or projects that receive funding from the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch through the Applied Health Evidence Program (AHEP) under a Transfer Payment Accountability Agreement.
  • Research Planning and Management Unit in the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch: Oversees AHEP and functions as the coordinator and evaluator of the AHRQ process. The Research Planning and Management Unit's role is to facilitate direct contact between Knowledge Users and Research Providers. The Research Planning and Management Unit is available as support if questions or issues arise, e.g., demand exceeds the organization's available funds or capacity to respond, insufficient demand, poor alignment of question with organization's expertise, advice on prioritizing, etc.

Three Types of Research Provider Responses

  • Rapid response – Preliminary information in one week or less providing a "first blush" response, e.g., expert opinion or relevant systematic reviews, articles or reports on a given policy topic.
  • Research report or technical brief – Approximately 4-8 weeks of work to quickly synthesize the existing research evidence on a given topic. The final product could be a presentation or a report. Upon conclusion of the AHRQ, the researcher will complete the AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly.
  • Research project – Where it has been confirmed that new knowledge must be generated, i.e., existing knowledge is not sufficient for planning or policy development requirements, new research projects will be initiated. The duration may be months or years, depending on the project. For longer-term projects it is expected that some information be provided within the funded year. Institutions should contact the Research Planning and Management Unit prior to undertaking any longer-term projects. Organizations should not initiate new multi-year projects if they have one-year funding agreements unless they can produce some interim or preliminary findings during the funded period. At the end of the project, the researcher will complete an AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly. Interim or preliminary findings will not be disseminated.

It is understood that not every question will result in a research response.

Process and Timing

The AHRQ process will be ongoing throughout the funding year. Knowledge Users should be mindful of the fact that as the funding year progresses, Research Providers might have less capacity to take on new projects as they expend their funding related to AHRQs. Research Providers should limit their work to projects that will have some results within the period for which they have confirmed funding.

The Responsibilities of Knowledge Users

Knowledge Users will:

  • Initiate direct contact with Research Providers before submitting a Knowledge User AHRQ Request form for all three types of responses. (The Research Provider Contact List should be used to identify appropriate research providers)
  • Work with Research Providers to identify which of the three AHRQ responses is most appropriate given their information need and timeline for decision.
  • Contact Research Planning and Management Unit for assistance if questions/issues arise (e.g., Research Provider is unable to take on the AHRQ).
  • Provide the Research Provider with a brief summary of the background and purpose of the actual question being proposed (more detail provided in the Knowledge User AHRQ Request Form).
  • Develop research question and obtain approvals from senior decision maker (e.g., assistant deputy minister, executive director) to ensure that research questions reflect the need for knowledge in the Ontario health care system. Questions based on personal interest or other non-system purposes are not suitable for the AHRQ process.
  • Participate in the Research Provider-led meeting/call before the final product is delivered for type 2 and type 3 responses.
  • Potentially participate in a short telephone survey about the AHRQ process.

For More Information

Call ServiceOntario, Infoline at:
1–866–532–3161 (Toll–free)
In Toronto, (416) 314–5518
TTY 1–800–387–5559.
In Toronto, TTY (416)327–4282
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