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Frequently Asked Questions

Submitting an Innovation Subscribing to E-mail Updates QualityTools Other Topics

Submitting an Innovation

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How are you defining innovation?

The AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange defines innovation as the implementation of new or altered products, services, processes, systems, organizational structures, or business models as a means of improving one or more domains of health care quality.

To learn more about how an innovation is defined, go to Submit Your Innovation.

How do I submit an innovation to the Innovations Exchange?

To learn how to submit an innovation, go to Submit Your Innovation.

How do you decide whether to include an innovation in the Innovations Exchange?

To learn about the inclusion and exclusion criteria, go to Submit Your Innovation.

What are the priority areas for the Innovations Exchange?

To learn about AHRQ's priorities, go to Submit Your Innovation.

What are the two ways in which innovations are presented on this site?

The Innovations Exchange encompasses clinical and non-clinical activities and tools that vary in their degree of novelty, their effect on quality, and their level of supporting evidence. Information about innovations is presented as Innovation Profiles and Innovations Attempts:

  • Innovation Profiles are descriptions of innovations that can demonstrate some level of outcome success. Each profile lays out the problem that the innovation is meant to address, how the innovation works, what results it achieved, and how the innovator first developed and implemented it. The profile also offers lessons learned by the innovator, including guidance on getting started with the innovation and sustaining it over time.
  • Innovation Attempts are descriptions of projects that did not succeed as planned because they could not be implemented or sustained, did not achieve desired results, or had unexpected negative consequences. We present these efforts so that health care organizations can learn from and build upon them. Each attempt includes information on the problem the innovator intended to address, how the innovation works, its results, and the lessons learned by the innovator.

How often are Innovation Profiles updated?

To ensure that the Innovations Exchange collection contains current information, each profile is reviewed and updated annually. The Editorial Team contacts the innovator seeking any new information, such as data that was collected since the profile was previously reviewed or updated results. Another part of the team's responsibility when updating a profile is to ensure that the innovation continues to meet the project inclusion criteria, and that it is correctly classified as an attempt or a profile.

Any significant updates are noted in the Snapshot section of the profile. The date of the most recent update is also provided.

Subscribing to E-mail Updates

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How do I sign up for your e-mail list for periodic updates?

To sign up, go to Contact Us/Subscribe, and select "Sign up for E-mail Updates". Subscribers to this list receive biweekly announcements about new innovations, new QualityTools, new educational materials, and upcoming events.

What will you do with the information I provide when I sign up for one of your services?

You do not have to give us personal information to visit our Web site or subscribe to our e-mail list or RSS service. We will keep your e-mail address confidential and will use it only to send you information about the Innovations Exchange.

I recently signed up for your e-mail list. Where can I find previously published issues that I've missed?

The Innovations Exchange publishes and highlights new content in biweekly "What's New" issue. Each issue has new profiles and QualityTools with a health care theme linking the featured content together. For example, past issue topics include health literacy, cultural competence and patient safety. To view previously published issues, go to the What's New Archive page.

How do I cancel my e-mail subscription to the Innovations Exchange?

To cancel your subscription, go to Contact Us/Subscribe and select the Unsubscribe link; then enter your e-mail address and select the Unsubscribe button. You will receive a message confirming your request.


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I would like to submit a new tool to QualityTools. What information should I send?

To submit a tool, send an e-mail to info@innovations.ahrq.gov with the following information:

  • Name of the tool
  • Developer organization
  • Sponsor organization
  • Hyperlink to tool
  • Brief description
  • Release date

Please include your name and telephone number so that we can follow up with you for more information if needed.

What criteria do you use to select tools for the QualityTools database?

QualityTools includes a variety of materials. Examples of tools include worksheets, questionnaires, fact sheets, databases, benchmarks, software, planning resources, calculators, algorithms, checklists, and brochures.

To be considered for inclusion as a QualityTool, a tool must be:

  • An information resource designed for health care professionals (providers, purchasers, payers, and policy makers) or patients to use to improve decision making and/or health care quality.
  • Freely available (i.e., without a fee or charge) in an electronic format via the Internet. This format includes electronic abstracts and/or summaries of free tools that can be ordered or require free registration to get the actual tool.
  • Developed and/or sponsored by an identifiable agency, organization, or committee.
  • Associated with the most current version of the guideline, if the tool is derived from an evidence-based practice guideline.

How can I find QualityTools on a specific topic?

There are three ways to find QualityTools on a specific topic:

  1. Go to the QualityTools page and select the "Browse QualityTools by Subject" link to find categories of topics.
  2. Enter terms into the Search box available on the Web site. The results will show tools as well as innovations that meet your search terms.
  3. Go to the Browse the Innovations Exchange by Subject page and select a subject. The results will show both tools and innovations that address the selected subject.

What is the contact information for QualityTools?

To contact QualityTools, send an e-mail to info@innovations.ahrq.gov.

If you would like to provide contact information for QualityTools, please include the QualityTools Web address, http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/qualitytools, and the general e-mail, info@innovations.ahrq.gov.

How can I find out about recently published QualityTools?

You can register to receive regular updates on QualityTools (and innovations) that are added to this Web site. To subscribe to this service, go to the Contact Us/Subscribe page.

Other Topics

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I do not have an innovation or QualityTool to submit. Are there other ways I can become involved in the Innovations Exchange community?

The Learn and Network section of the Innovations Exchange community contains advice and ideas from experts and practitioners on a variety of topics related to quality improvement, innovation, and change management. Free interactive webinars are also offered periodically for our community. You can find information on upcoming webinars on the Learn and Network page. Materials, including slide presentations and audio files from past webinars are available on the Resources page.

Why should I post a comment?

A goal of the Innovations Exchange is to serve as a virtual community that brings together individuals and organizations that have implemented and/or are considering implementing innovations in health care delivery. The interactive comment feature is an important part of meeting this goal. By definition, most health care innovations have been adopted by a relatively small number of organizations. Consequently, limited information is typically available on how to develop, implement, and operate these programs effectively. By posting comments on specific innovations, users of the Innovations Exchange can enjoy the benefits of networking by sharing experiences, lessons learned, and other perspectives. Users are invited to submit comments on any innovation profiled on the Innovations Exchange. Comments can touch on a variety of topics, including but not limited to the following:

  • Questions (or responses to questions) about how an innovation works, including those related to planning and development, implementation, ongoing execution, results achieved, or other aspects of the innovation.
  • Additional resources that could help with implementation of an innovation (e.g., tools, references, funding sources).
  • Ideas about other contexts or settings in which the innovation may apply.
  • Lessons learned related to adopting or sustaining the innovation, including potential concerns, pitfalls, and red flags.

How does the review process for submitted comments work?

Submitted comments are reviewed by the Innovations Exchange editorial staff to ensure that they are appropriate; this review process will typically take place within one working day of submission. While we expect to post nearly every comment, reviewers will not post comments that:

  • May be perceived as a personal attack.
  • Use inappropriate or unprofessional language.
  • Appear to be commercial in nature.
  • Are unclear or seemingly unrelated to the innovation.
  • Are inaccurate, unsubstantiated or off-topic.

Anyone submitting a comment should provide a valid e-mail address to facilitate further communication. If for some reason we cannot accept a comment as submitted, the editorial staff will attempt to contact the submitter and suggest revisions to address our concerns.

Are there any restrictions on sharing the Innovations Exchange content with my colleagues?

Because this is a U.S. Federal Government Web site, all of the descriptive information in this site about innovations and tools is in the public domain. The information may be shared freely as long as it is appropriately cited. (Refer to the question below about citing information from this resource.) In addition, none of the descriptive information about innovations and tools on this Web site may be used for commercial and/or product endorsement purposes.

However, while all of the tools and many of the innovations described in this site are available on the Internet, not all of them are in the public domain and available for distribution.

  • Innovations and tools developed by the U.S. Federal Government are in the public domain and not protected by copyright; therefore, they may be disseminated with the appropriate citation.
  • Innovations and tools developed by non-Federal (private) developers may or may not be in the public domain. Innovations and tools that are not in the public domain may be protected by copyright, which means that you will need the developer's permission prior to dissemination. To contact the developer of an innovation, start with the contact information provided under "Contact The Innovator" in the "What They Did" section of the Innovation Profile or Attempt. For the QualityTools, please identify the developer through the tool's Web site.

How do I cite the information found on this site (i.e., an Innovation Profile/Attempt or a QualityTool)?

The suggested citation format for an Innovation Profile or Attempt is:

  • AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Innovation Profile/Attempt: [insert title of profile/attempt] ([insert developer organization name]). In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited YYYY Mon DD]. Available: http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov.

    Example: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Innovation Profile: E-mail Enhances Families' Communication With and Access to Pediatrician (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh). In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited 2008 Jul 31]. Available: http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov.

The suggested citation format for a QualityTools Tool Summary is:

  • QualityTools. Tool summary: [insert title of summary] ([insert developer organization name]). In: QualityTools [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited YYYY Mon DD]. Available: http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/qualitytools.

    Example: QualityTools. Tool summary: Child Health Guide (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). In: QualityTools [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited 2008 Jul 31]. Available: http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/qualitytools.

How can another health-related Web site establish a link to the Innovations Exchange?

The Innovations Exchange encourages health care Web sites to establish links from their pages to www.innovations.ahrq.gov. If you would like to link to this site, please:

Please note that all external links from commercial sites to our Federal Government site should be clearly identified. Our Agency cannot endorse, nor appear to endorse, commercial services or products. Links should not be displayed in any manner that would imply an endorsement.

What browsers work with the Innovations Exchange site?

The Innovations Exchange Web site is designed to be available and compatible with a wide variety of browsers, including:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 (Windows)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 (Windows)
  • Mozilla Firefox 2.0+ (Windows)
  • Safari 3.0+ (Macintosh)

What is the contact information for the Innovations Exchange?

E-mail: info@innovations.ahrq.gov

Fax: 301-610-4950

Mail: Health Care Innovations Exchange, RA-1140, Westat, 1650 Research Blvd., Rockville, MD 20850

I am a patient and have a health-related question. Whom can I contact?

The Innovations Exchange does not have medical professionals or physicians on staff to answer patients' questions and/or to advise on health-related issues or experiences. If you have a question about health care, please contact your doctor or visit www.MedlinePlus.gov.

Last updated: July 6, 2009.

AHRQ  Advancing Excellence in Health Care