MNCY SCN Health Outcomes Improvement Fund II (HOIF II) Grant Competition

Background and Purpose

The mission of the Maternal Newborn Child and Youth (MNCY) Strategic Clinical NetworkTM (SCNTM) is “to bring together people, evidence and data to achieve the best possible health outcomes for mothers, newborns, children and families within a sustainable, publically funded health care system.” To facilitate this mission, Nutrition and Food Services (NFS) at Alberta Health Services (AHS) has made value-added funds available to the MNCY SCN to be used for research and quality improvement (QI) projects to improve health and clinical care for mothers, infants, children, and youth.

The Health Outcomes Improvement Fund II (HOIF II) competition is designed for research and QI proposals for projects conducted at the bedside or in the community where patients, clients or populations in Alberta are impacted.

Specifically, HOIF II will fund innovative projects that are likely to demonstrate practical/clinical differences, optimization of health service resource utilization, improved quality of care and/or reductions in disparities of health outcomes for MNCY SCN Albertan populations.

The impact of these projects should be feasible to achieve within the funding term (2 to 3 years) with solid plans for implementation and evaluation.

Timelines

Registrations Due 4:00 pm (MST) Monday, October 15th, 2018
Applications Due 4:00 pm (MST) Monday, December 17th, 2018
Notice of Funding Decision Early March, 2019

Grant Amount and Term

The following proposals are invited:

Amount Term
Open Projects – Small $5,000 – $50,000 Up to 24 months
Targeted Projects – Small $5,000 – $50,000 Up to 24 months
Targeted Projects – Large >$50,000 – $375,000 Up to 36 months

Open Projects

Proposals for projects with budgets up to $50,000 and a duration of two years, which have the potential to improve the quality of care and health outcomes for one of the MNCY SCN populations in Alberta (maternal, newborns, children and youth) will be considered. Budgets should be appropriate for the scope of the project and feasibility to complete work within the two year duration should be considered.

Targeted Projects (Large or Small)

Projects that address one of the MNCY SCN priorities can be applied for under the following two terms:

  • Small Target – Budgets up to $50,000 with a duration of two years
  • Large Target – Budgets from $50,000 to $375,000 with a duration of three years

Budgets should be appropriate for the scope of the project. Consideration of feasibility to complete the project within the respective durations is also a component of decision to apply in the Small or Large Target category.

A determination of fit with the MNCY SCN priority will be completed as soon as the registration is received or by October 31, 2018 at the latest, and communicated back to the Principal Investigator prior to proceeding to full application. If a proposed project does not fit MNCY SCN priorities as determined by the committee, the proposal can still be submitted in the Open Project Category.

Targeted projects must address one of the following MNCY SCN priorities within the Alberta context:

  1. Develop, implement, and evaluate provincial pathways or other innovative approaches to care in Alberta, in the areas of:
    • pregnancy planning or preconception health
    • pregnancy, antenatal, prenatal health and care
    • intrapartum care
    • postpartum and newborn care
    • neonatal intensive care
    • child health
  2. Develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to support obstetrical care and access for rural, and/or marginalized populations in Alberta
  3. Develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches in care for Indigenous mothers, newborns, children and youth in Alberta
  4. Innovations to improve the care of Medically Complex Children in Alberta
  5. Develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to optimize regional facility support for pediatric capacity in Alberta

Note: Targeted projects propose a change to how clinical care is managed (i.e., a pathway or other innovation) and tests it (i.e., implementation and evaluation) either across the healthcare system, or in a pilot test, with the intent to scale and spread the change in care if the pilot is successful. Proposed changes to healthcare management should be based on a solid background of evidence (i.e., translation of what we know into what we do).

Eligibility to Apply for HOIF II Grants

  • This funding opportunity is open to teams led by Alberta-based researchers and/or clinicians that meet the eligibility criteria of the funding opportunity and whose project is relevant to the purpose and objectives of the funding opportunity and is focused in Alberta.
  • The Principal Investigator (PI) must be affiliated with an Alberta based university or health related institution and eligible to hold research funds at that institution.
  • You can be the PI or co-PI on ONE proposal (regardless of category) but can be a team member on multiple proposals.

Application Process

The application will involve a two-step process:

  1. Registration  (You must have received a confirmation email to proceed to the next step)
  2. Full application and proposal

Registration is a requirement to submit the full application.

Please contact Laurie Vermeylen (grants@policywise.com) if you did not receive a confirmation email and believe you should have.

Registration – Due October 15, 2018

Registrations are to be submitted through REDCap.

The following details are required for registration:

  • Which category is being applied for:
    • Open
    • Small targeted ($5,000 – $50,000)
    • Large targeted (>$50,000 – $375,000)
  • The type of project: research or quality improvement project
  • Which MNCY SCN population the project is most relevant to:
    • Maternal/Fetal/Newborn
    • Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
    • Child & Youth
    • Indigenous Maternal, Newborn, Child & Youth
  • A two page letter that includes:
    • Background/relevance to MCNY SCN population(s)
    • Research question or improvement aim
    • Methodology/Implementation strategy and evaluation
    • Expected outcomes/impacts of the project, and
    • Approximate amount of funding requested
    • For the targeted funding competition only, an additional ½ page description of how the proposed project aligns with one of the MNCY SCN priority topics. (Thus, the total page allowance for targeted funding project registrations is 2 ½ pages).
  • A document identifying the names and affiliations of the principal investigator/project lead, co-principal investigator/project co-lead, project team members, and collaborators.

Registration will be used to:

  • Facilitate reviewer selection
  • Provide an opportunity to connect applicants with similar projects, in order to encourage provincial collaboration
  • Ensure projects are focused on MNCY SCN priorities (if targeted) or on one of MNCY SCN’s four priority populations in Alberta

For targeted registrations only:

  • An internal committee will determine if project proposals fit with MNCY SCN priorities and Principal Investigators (PIs) will be invited to submit a full application in this category. If fit with MNCY SCN priorities is not successful, PIs can still submit a full application in the open category.
  • Communication of this determination will be made by October 31st, 2018, at the latest.

Registrations are due by 4:00 pm (MST) Monday, October 15th, 2018 and should be submitted through the REDCap link.

Full Application and Proposal – Due December 17, 2018, 4pm MST

Registered applicants will be asked to submit their full proposal as an attachment with the online application form through REDCap.

Full proposals are due December 17th 2018 and should be submitted via the online form provided. Applicants can expect to be notified early March, 2019 about the results of their application.

Application Form

The online form will require the following:

  • Abstract (200-word maximum)
  • Current 5-page CVs for the PI and the Co-PI (if applicable) with a focus on the most recent work relevant to the project
  • For each of the other team members: a 4-page condensed CV including information on their current position, academic qualifications, funding received in past 5 years, publications relevant to the proposed project in past 5 years, and experience relevant to the proposed project.
  • Full 6-page proposal (details on this webpage)
  • Combined appendices covering the following topics (maximum page lengths are in brackets):
    • Timelines (1-page)
    • Qualifications/responsibilities of members, collaborators, students, and trainees for those not included in the team member section, where applicable
    • Environment (e.g., institutional support, available facilities and equipment, access to data) (½-page)
    • Ethical considerations (if any) (1-page)
    • Project deliverables (1-page)
  • Completed budget template
  • Letters of support from collaborators (if appropriate)
  • Signatures:
    • For applicants who are eligible to hold funds at an Alberta university, the following signatures are required: Principal Investigator; PI’s Department Head, Chair, or Dean; and the University Research Services Office. It is up to applicants to ensure they are following their university’s protocol.
    • For AHS employees not eligible to hold funds at an Alberta University, the Application Approval Form must be completed
    • For other applicants – please ensure you are following your organization’s protocol.

Full proposals are due December 17th 2018 and must be submitted via the online form provided. Applicants can expect to be notified early in March of 2019 about the results of their application.

Proposal

Registered applicants will be asked to submit their full proposal as an attachment with the online application form.

Full proposals have a maximum limit of 6 pages (single spaced, 11-point Arial font, 1 inch margins). They can be submitted in Word or PDF format. Applications that do not follow page-limit, spacing, and font size will not be considered for review.

The full 6-page proposals have should include the following components:

  • Background/rationale
  • Research question/improvement aim
  • Relevance: how the project aligns with and addresses MNCY SCN priority topics (for targeted call) or will have potential to improve quality of care and/or health outcomes in the MNCY SCN population (for open call). Must be focused in Alberta and on Alberta’s population.
  • Methodology/implementation strategy and evaluation: Depending on the type of project: a) sufficient detail about the process and approach so reviewers can evaluate its potential for success; and b) sufficient detail for reviewers to evaluate the scientific merit
  • Anticipated results and impact of project
  • Sustainability, scale and spread: how the findings from this project can be sustained beyond the end of project funding or spread and scaled, if applicable.
  • References (not included in the 6 page maximum, single spaced)

PI’s should also include in their proposal, ANY of the following factors, as positive consideration will be given for evidence of:

  • Demonstration how they will support transitions to care in the community including integration with primary care
  • Focus on prevention and slow the progression to needing acute care services
  • Demonstration of a strong patient and family focus including having patients and families as project team members
  • Ensuring the best use of health care resources and focus on sustainability of results beyond the funding period
  • Including a strong knowledge translation and implementation plan
  • Demonstration of an impact on the MNCY SCN Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
  • Demonstration of enhanced use of MyChildAlberta measurement and analytics to support improving patient outcomes in the MNCY population

Note: MyChildAlberta is a comprehensive repository linking maternal and child-related health data to help healthcare practitioners, administrators, researchers and policy makers more fully understand issues faced by pregnant women and/or children and to allow them to design, implement and evaluate innovative approaches to address these problems.

Review Process

PolicyWise for Children & Families will manage the application and review process using similar criteria to the previous HOIF funding call. In general, this will include an external peer-review process using the criteria described below scored on a 9-point scale. Applications must score 75% or higher to be considered eligible for funding. If any applications score in this range but receive a 0 or 1 in any category, the HOIF II Steering Committee will review the application to determine its eligibility

For applications submitted to the targeted call, an internal review by members of the HOIF II Steering Committee will be conducted to assess relevance and potential impact to the MNCY SCN priorities. This internal review will run concurrently with the external peer review and scores from both will be considered.

A ranked list of applications will be provided to the HOIF II Steering Committee for final selection.

Rating scale

Descriptor Score Additional Guidance on Strengths and Weaknesses
Exceptional 8 Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses
Outstanding 7 Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses
Excellent 6 Very strong with only some minor weaknesses
Very Good 5 Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses
Good 4 Strong but with at least one moderate weakness
Satisfactory 3 Some strengths but also some moderate weaknesses
Fair 2 Some strengths but with at least one major weakness
Marginal 1 A few strengths and a few major weaknesses
Poor 0 Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Review Criteria

The following elements will be part of the review criteria:

  • Background and rationale for the project (including, if applicable, preliminary data, problem statement),
  • Research question/improvement aim, well described and clear
    • There is a compelling argument for why this project is needed
  • Relevance of the proposed work to MNCY SCN priorities and/or MNCY SCN population in Alberta
    • Addresses an identified gap in knowledge or clinical practice and describes how the project is relevant to and will impact the population or priority
  • Overall impact of the project
    • Likelihood that the project will develop evidence which can be used to inform policy and practice (including quality of care, health status, or delivery of health services), leading to improvements in quality and health outcomes.
    • Likelihood that the project will result in meaningful improvements to patient care and address the problem identified.
  • Methodology/implementation strategy and evaluation (This category will be worth twice as much as the other categories):
    • Methods chosen are appropriate for the purpose of the study as identified by the research questions/aims/clearly identified problem and opportunity
    • Measures are linked to the research question/problem/aim and are clearly described with meaningful measures of success/effectiveness
    • Sufficient detail for data collection, storage and analysis
  • Feasibility and risk
    • Budget is realistic with clear timelines and feasibility within funding duration
    • There is evidence of institutional support and high likelihood of access to relevant resources (i.e. facilities, staff, equipment, etc.)
  • Team composition and stakeholders
    • Team has the necessary expertise and relevant stakeholders have been engaged and are appropriately involved. For example, community partners, service providers, policy-makers, decision-makers, and/or students (list is not exhaustive)
    • Patients/family/caregivers are included through all stages of the project (not just as participants or subjects) as appropriate.
  • Sustainability, scale and spread
    • There is a plan or considerations for how the findings from this project can be scaled and spread to other areas, if applicable.
    • Thought has been given to how improvements in care or learnings can be sustained beyond the end of the project funding.

If projects include work with Indigenous populations, the team must abide by Tri-Council Guidelines for Research involving the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada and the OCAP principles.

The HOIF II Steering Committee will make the final selection of funded projects from the ranked proposals. In cases of tied review scores, PolicyWise will provide syntheses of reviewer comments to a sub-group of the HOIF II Steering Committee. The sub-group will review the tied projects and make a recommendation to the HOIF II Steering Committee.

Release of Funds

Prior to releasing funds to successful applicants the following must be provided:

  • Response to reviewer comments
  • Signed Research Agreement (HOIF project template)
  • Confirmation of ethical approval or ARECCI score for QI projects
    • For QI projects, please use the ARECCI tool to determine if ethical approval is required. Ethical approval must be valid for the duration of the grant. If ethical approval is not required for the project, documentation of ARECCI score is required.

Eligible Expenses

Use of funding shall follow the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. Some eligible and ineligible expenses are listed below.

Funding may be requested for:

  • Purchase of materials, supplies, expendables
  • Purchase or rental of minor equipment required to carry out the project
  • Computer software programs
  • Costs associated with publication of results
  • Project-related travel expenses, including mileage, conference fees, airfare, accommodation, etc., up to a maximum of $3,000

Funding will NOT be provided for:

  • Hospitality and entertainment expenses
  • Education-related expenses such as tuition, thesis defense, course fees
  • Indirect costs (i.e., medical insurance) or administrative costs (standard office equipment such as printers, furniture, stationary, etc.)
  • Organizational overhead costs

The above lists are not exhaustive. Questions about specific items can be directed to the Assistant Scientific Director (MNCY SCN™) or HOIF II Project Manager.

Project Reporting

Successful applicants will be required to provide interim and annual reports depending on the length of funding. A final report will also be due three months from the end of the funding term. Completed reports will be made available on the MNCY SCN website.

More information on reporting requirements will be provided to successful applicants.

For questions about project fit and eligibility, please contact:

  • Seija Kromm, PhD, Assistant Scientific Director
    Maternal Newborn Child & Youth Strategic Clinical Network
    Tel: 403-808-2081
    Email: Seija.Kromm@ahs.ca

OR

  • Marg Sevcik, Project Manager
    Maternal Newborn Child & Youth Strategic Clinical Network
    Tel: 403-971-0197
    Email: Margaret.Sevcik@ahs.ca

For questions about the registration and application process, please contact: