NCC Supports AHRQ Study Sections

NCC’s recently awarded contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) includes support for up to 15 Initial Review Group (IRG) Study Section Meetings hosted by AHRQ’s Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority (OEREP).  Over 250 individual reviewers participate in five IRG Clusters three times a year to evaluate grant applications that propose value-based, technology-oriented, and quality assurance research.  Our Conference and Peer Review Management (CPRM) team ensures that all aspects of these highly technical review meetings are conducted seamlessly, with tasks including travel coordination, venue negotiations, and on-site participant support.

In addition to the IRG Meetings that took place in late October and early November, our team’s assistance was requested for Contract Review Meeting in mid-October. Along with overseeing the basic meeting requirements for venue and travel coordination, our Conference Planner collaborated with our subcontractor, Rose Li and Associates, in response to a last-minute request for a technical writer to capture the meeting’s proceedings on-site. NCC’s responsiveness set the tone for how our services would be provided for the upcoming Study Section Meetings.

Our team members arrived on-site two hours early on the first meeting day to verify room and equipment configuration, set up registration displays, and finalize all meeting collateral.  With everything in order, NCC staff welcomed participants, distributed paperwork, and directed them to the spacious conference rooms to begin the reviews.  During the meetings, our Meeting Planner assisted in establishing a conference phone line into the meeting room, enabling remote participants to offer their input on the proposals without hindrance or interruption to the review process.

One popular inquiry our planners addressed pertained to a new software system to streamline the reimbursement process, resulting in a faster turnaround for payments to the reviewers.  Post-meeting, CPRM team members were available to field phone calls and emails regarding the system, and within five business days, funds were being directly deposited into participants’ bank accounts.  More than 450 unique reimbursements will be processed by our CPRM division within the next year.

As a result of our excellent responsiveness and customer support on-site, our Conference Planner received the following note: “Just want to thank you very much for all you did to make my meeting a success.  I especially love the way you went out of your way to make sure I was comfortable and how you waited on me; it made me feel very special.  Again, thank you and I look forward to working with you in the future.”

The CPRM team has already begun preparations for the next set of IRG meetings in February to March 2012 and anticipates exceeding AHRQ’s expectations once again.