Quality Assurance or Research

Question: How do we decide whether an activity is an internal quality assurance program or research that can be counted as a community benefit? We perform research to improve upon patient care. Advancements in patient care help with community health improvement goals. The director of research has asked for which type of research he should count toward community benefit. He has 300 studies moving forward at this time. Should he only record the community-based research studies?

Recommendations: We recommend following the IRS instructions regarding research and therefore suggest you report the cost associated with studies that meet all of the following criteria:

  • It is generalizable, that is the discoveries can be applied outside of your organization
  • The protocol contains a plan for publishing or otherwise making results broadly to the public, not limited to internal distribution and use.
  • It is funded by a government or tax exempt entity (including the organization itself)

We recommend not counting quality assurance program costs if such programs are intended or required to increase reimbursement.

(Revised February 2011)

Question: Can we count the research project that we are participating in with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement under Category D Research?

Recommendation: The primary reason for participating in most IHI initiatives is to improve the quality of care in the organization, although by doing so these organizations are part of a larger effort to change the delivery of health care. Generally, we do not recommend reporting these quality improvement activities as community benefit research. However, if the organization engages in a specific project that meets the IRS definition of research, that particular research project could be reported as community benefit. If in doubt as to whether to count, we recommend reporting in the narrative portion of the organization's community benefit report and/or in Schedule H, Part VI.
Please Take Note: The information provided does not constitute legal or tax advice. The material is provided for informational/educational purposes only. Please consult with counsel regarding your organization's particular circumstances.