Improvement champions throughout health care are currently faced with a difficult dilemma. The need for their work is greater now than ever before, but the weak economy is forcing hospital leaders to cut costs in many ways, and sometimes that means withholding funding from their improvement programs. Improvement efforts meant to reduce costs can be deterred by the realistic costs to implement the improvements such as researching new technology and piloting new processes. Even worse, the costs to contract or employee improvement experts may seem superfluous if leadership prioritizes departments which provide direct patient care.
Fortunately, a few external funding opportunities do exist. Health care management engineers should look into corporate and government funding sources. This article presents resources that may prove useful to health care management engineers seeking external funding. Tips on grant writing are presented as well.
For starters, there are some essential references that each engineer should explore. To learn about federal grant opportunities and the grant writing process refer to www.healthresourceonline.com. The Health Grants Funding Alert, in effect since 1978, helps health professionals discover grants with a monthly newsletter. The United States Department of Health and Human Services website, and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research website, list grant opportunities. For grants that directly relate to healthcare quality and efficiency, refer to this site.
State governments are often the entity administering the grants. In March 2008, New York Governor, David Peterson, awarded $105 million in grants to study the use of information technology in health care (full article). In 2007, Indiana’s State Department of Health granted the Decatur County Memorial hospital a $10,000 grant to implement Sentri7, a software application designed by Pharmacy OneSource, that enables data collection and reporting related to the tracking and prevention of adverse events.* The stimulus bill introduced several prospects for additional funding specifically centered on health information exchange
In addition, your organization may offer a certain number of research grants per year. Check with your colleagues or supervisors to find out if your organization has a relationship with any philanthropic donors or support networks. Such groups are often looking for opportunities to fund valuable improvement work that does not fit under the current budget. If grants are not available at your organization, some information technology companies may provide corporate funding for research pilots that involve their products. Visit http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders to see if any companies in your area are looking to support research.
You must invest serious time and effort into the application process. Typical grant proposals consist of a proposal summary, a description of the organization and team that will be working on the project, a problem statement, your objectives, your research methodology, your budget, and an appendix if necessary. In some ways, the grant application resembles a process improvement project charter. Grant writing is an art in itself, however, and although the process may appear similar to a Six Sigma project charter, it is very different. A project charter consists of a project background, objectives, problem statement just like a grant proposal, but it does not require the same level of detail regarding the research methodology to be utilized in the project. A project charter can be written in any format and language that has meaning at your organization, but a grant proposal must be crafted according the funding resources’ guidelines, which are typically more stringent and specific. Be mindful of your language and formatting as both should be in line with the requirements listed. Ask your colleagues to review the document to ensure that your request is not only clearly written, but that it also meets the grant requirements.