Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: Although the Innovations Exchange project is no longer funded, we offer these FAQs to help you better understand the content that remains accessible to the public.


How do you define health care innovation?

The AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange defines health care innovation as the implementation of new or altered products, services, processes, systems, policies, organizational structures, or business models that aim to improve one or more domains of health care quality or reduce health care disparities. To learn more about how an innovation is defined, go to the About page.

What is a health care policy innovation?

A health care policy innovation is a new approach in a given organizational context for driving changes in the behavior of individuals, groups, or organizational entities that improve quality or reduce disparities in the delivery of health care services. See for a complete description of the inclusion criteria.

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

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

  • Service Delivery Innovation Profiles and Policy Innovation Profiles describe innovations that have achieved some level of success. Each profile presents the problem addressed by the innovation, how the innovation works, the results of using the innovation, and how the innovation was first developed and implemented. The profile also offers lessons learned by the innovator, including guidance on getting started with the innovation and sustaining it over time.
  • Innovation Attempts describe projects or policies that did not succeed as planned because they could not be implemented or sustained, did not achieve desired results, or had unexpected negative consequences. Attempts are presented for health care organizations and policymakers to learn from and build upon. Each attempt includes information on the problem the innovator intended to address, how the innovation works and its results, and the lessons learned by the innovator.

What is an archived innovation profile or attempt?

When a contact person is no longer available for an innovation, it is archived. The innovation or attempt remains on the Innovations Exchange, as it may still contain useful information, but the Innovator Contact Information area is removed. It should be noted however, that as of September 2016, innovator contact information is no longer being updated and may not be current. Innovation profiles will not be archived after this date.


What criteria were used to select tools for the QualityTools database?

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

To qualify as a QualityTool, a tool must be—

  • An information resource designed for health care professionals (providers, purchasers, payers, and policymakers) or patients to use to improve decision making and/or health care quality.
  • Available for free in an electronic format on the Internet. This format includes electronic abstracts and/or summaries of free tools that require ordering or free registration.
  • 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?

Go to the Browse by Subject page and select a subject. The results will show both tools and innovations that address the selected subject.

Other Topics

How do I increase the font size when viewing the Web site?

The Innovations Exchange Web site can be viewed using 4 different text sizes. To increase the text size, select the button on the top right banner for the desired text size.

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 or product endorsement purposes.

Although 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 are 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 share the Innovations Exchange pages with my social media networks/friends?

Each innovation profile, attempt, and QualityTool provides a share button (Share Share) located on the upper right side of the page. Simply hover over the button and link icons for Facebook, Twitter, and a variety of other social media channels will display. Choose the one you like and the link will automatically populate as a post to that account. (You may need to sign into your account if you are not currently signed in.)

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:

  • 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:

Example: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. State-Mandated Nurse Staffing Levels Alleviate Workloads, Leading to Lower Patient Mortality and Higher Nurse (California Department of Health Services; California Nurses Association). In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited 2014 Mar 31]. Available:

The suggested citation format for a QualityTools summary:

  • AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Tool summary: [insert title of summary] ([insert developer organization name]). In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited YYYY Mon DD]. Available:

Example: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. Tool summary: Improving Antipsychotic Appropriateness in Dementia Patients (IA-ADAPT) (The University of Iowa Geriatric Education Center). In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited 2014 Mar 31]. Available:

The suggested citation format for the Innovation Profiles or QualityTools Database:

  • Innovation Profiles/QualityTools Database [insert downloaded filename]. In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited YYYY Mon DD]. Available:

Example: QualityTools Database [AHRQ_Innovations_Exchange_QualityTools.csv]. In: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange [Web site]. Rockville (MD): [cited 2014 Mar 31]. Available:

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 or to advise on health-related issues or experiences. If you have a question about health care, please contact your doctor or visit

How do I download the entire collection of Innovation Profiles and/or QualityTools from the Health Care Innovations Exchange?

The entire Health Care Innovations Exchange collection (Innovation Profiles and QualityTools) is freely available for download.

Two databases are available and must be downloaded separately:
    (1) A database that contains the text of all Innovation Profiles and Attempts; and
    (2) A database that contains the text of all QualityTools.

For more information and to download one or both databases, go to the download page.

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