COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Impact Grant Program (Co-RIG) – Phase I

The Canadian Medical Association Foundation and the Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine have come together to support family physicians in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is the Covid-19 Pandemic Response and Impact Grant Program (Co-RIG).  This program will be deployed in two phases.  Phase I will target immediate and short-term innovations that maximize the effectiveness of care for patients, while guarding the safety of health workers, leading to a rapid, front-line response to protect and treat everyone in Canada.

A request for proposals for Phase II will be issued in the coming months. The second phase of funding will focus on innovations and initiatives that prepare family medicine to cope with the challenges related to the pandemic in the long term, be it by scaling up existing innovations, responding to a resurgence of COVID-19 or preparing for other threats to human health and well-being.

Successful Phase I applicants will not be excluded from applying to Phase II Co-RIG funding.

Applications are due June 4, 2020 at 4pm ET.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the health and economic well-being of nations on a scale that has not been seen for more than a century. The response to such a threat must be rapid and effective in order to minimize the harmful impact of a virus that is both highly transmissible and lethal. The family medicine response to COVID-19 must support innovation that targets and protects highly vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, those with chronic conditions, and the homeless, amongst others.

Consistent with their role as front line care providers, family physicians are uniquely positioned to respond to COVID-19 through practice innovations that are both preventive and therapeutic. Similarly, as care givers for all, and for all conditions, family physicians must respond to both the direct and indirect health impacts of COVID-19. At all times, and especially at times of pandemic crisis, family physicians play an integrative health system role, working with public health officials and other health care professionals to ensure patients and populations receive safe medical care. As well, the Family Medicine professional profile emphasizes adaptation, wherein family physicians draw on their generalist competencies to respond to rapidly changing patient needs and care settings.

Co-RIG Program Phase I supports practice innovations that reduce the direct or indirect harms of COVID-19. Direct efforts include innovations that prevent the spread of COVID-19 and/or mitigate negative patient/population outcomes related to COVID-19. Indirect efforts include innovations that are targeted to non-COVID-19 health conditions, such as the negative health outcomes associated with neglected chronic disease and ancillary mental and social effects caused by the pandemic crisis.

Phase I will target family practice innovative interventions that can be implemented rapidly or have been recently implemented, and that are likely to have a measurable, positive impact on patients and/or populations within 6 months of the start of funding. Funding will:

  • Support family physicians and health care teams as they work to contain COVID-19 transmission, improve clinical outcomes for those infected, and protect front-line health care workers, while continuing to attend to the other urgent health needs of the population.
  • Target high impact innovations that respond to the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19.

The Co-RIG program is not a research program, although an evaluation plan must be part of the proposal. The emphasis is on innovation and potential for high impact, rather than methodologic rigor and knowledge creation. Program funding will support efforts that improve health care for patients in individual family practices, as well as larger proposals that engage multiple practices, scale up successful interventions or aim to benefit the population more broadly.

Proposed innovations and practice changes may take a variety of forms. These include, but are not limited to: therapeutic techniques; procedural practice changes; new patient and community outreach programs/technologies; EMR enhancements and analysis; developing new tracking and monitoring devices; redeploying medical and non-medical staff; enhanced communication with other care providers.

Co-RIG Program funding must be linked to clearly defined practice change(s) that are being implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants should clearly identify the proposed practice change and the measurable health outcomes that will be affected by the practice change. The proposed practice change should be feasible and highly likely to produce the expected outcome rapidly.

The Co-RIG Program will consider all family practice innovations that are likely to have a high degree of impact in reducing the harms of COVID-19. Priority domains include, for example:

  • New, innovative clinical practice during the Covid-19 pandemic in family medicine, including clinical infrastructure, integration with the health care system and use of telemedicine and virtual care;
  • Data system integration for the purpose of real time population tracking and participation in multi-centre clinical care, surveillance and research;
  • Reducing the impact of stress, isolation and financial challenges among patients and populations;
  • Ensuring safe, continuous care for those with chronic conditions or mental health issues;
  • Safeguarding and responding to high risk, vulnerable populations, such as nursing home residents, homeless people, and indigenous and rural communities;
  • Addressing stressors, fostering wellness and protecting family physicians and their health teams from harms that stem from COVID-19;
  • Practice innovations that support family physician role adaptation, the “COVID pivot”.

In collaboration with the Canadian Medical Association Foundation, The Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine will support successful Co-RIG projects totaling $5 million including all Phase I and Phase II initiatives. Phase I proposals will receive a maximum of $200,000 each.

The Co-RIG Program will consider a wide range of budget scenarios in order to encourage a breadth of innovations that reduce the direct and indirect harms of COVID-19. Regardless of the requested amount, all budgets will undergo rigorous review to ensure funding requests are appropriate.

Proposals that approach the maximum funding amount may involve significant equipment/technology development and scaling-up costs, partnerships with multiple practices, interventions that reach patient populations beyond an individual practice, acquisition of additional and possibly specially-trained staff, or other necessary funding to ensure the proposed innovation is effective.

The Co-RIG Program will also support proposals with relatively lower budgets. Such proposals may focus on smaller scale innovations within a single practice.

If additional funding is being sought, or has been acquired, for your Co-RIG Program proposal, indicate the other funding source, the amount received or requested and whether the funds have been approved.

Funds will be delivered upon reception of the REB approval or confirmation of exemption from an REB. Most organizations that have REBs have policies to complete REB reviews rapidly for COVID-19 related research. Applicants can consult their local hospital, community center or public health directions to identity an REB.

The principal applicant must be a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) with certification (CCFP) who have been in good standing for at least one year. If applying as a team, at least one member of the team must be a member of the CFPC with certification (CCFP) who has been in good standing for at least one year.

Grant funding will be released to the corporate entity affiliated with the applicant team, such as a not-for-profit organization, a registered charity, or a separate corporate account set up solely to receive the grant funds and track/document project-related expenditures.

Please Note: Co-RIG Program funding will not support clinical drug trials.

Approval from a Research Ethics Board (REB) or equivalent organization is required for initiatives that involve human or animals as subjects. Applicants are asked to identify any ethical issues that their proposed activities may create, and how they will mitigate or address these. They are also expected to submit an application to a local Research and Ethics Board (REB) before or concurrently with submission of their Co-RIG application.

Funds will be delivered upon receipt of the REB approval or confirmation of exemption. Applicants can consult their local hospital, community center or public health center for directions to identity and request review.

If you have received REB approval, please submit it along with your Co-RIG Program funding application. If you have not submitted your proposal for REB approval at the time of applying, please indicate which REB you will use and the estimated time for approval. If the activities you will undertake with Co-RIG Program funding do not require REB approval, please include an REB exemption statement with your submission, or indicate when the exemption statement will be available.

Equity and diversity considerations will be used in the evaluation of Co-RIG Program funding applications. The 2018 Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans stated that “over-protectionist attitudes or practices of researchers or REBs, whether intentional or inadvertent, can exclude some members of society from participating in research. The exclusion of individuals, groups or communities may constitute a failure to treat them justly”. The Co-RIG Program will strive to avoid these risks.

Application will be required to submit an itemized budget with a short description of each heading below along with the unit amount for associated costs.

Personnel

  • Co-RIG Program funding can be used to remunerate principals, co-applicants and other project staff for project work that is not remunerated by other sources. Co-RIG Program funding cannot be used to remunerate individuals for work that is already paid from other sources. Other sources of remuneration include, but are not necessarily limited to, academic salaries, medical service plan payments, research or project grants (other than Co-RIG), and other sources of personal income. Principal and co-applicant can be remunerated as part of Co-RIG project funding for time spent on the project up to five hours per week. Maximum renumeration will be calculated based on provincial rates.
  • For all personnel involved in the project including new, temporary personnel that are hired/contracted specifically for Co-RIG Program activities, please provide job titles, role descriptions, hourly rates, estimated number of hours and resulting personnel costs. Organizations managing funding on behalf of project teams are responsible for administering reimbursements for costs incurred by project teams. Project teams will submit invoices to the organization holding the grant.
  • CVs are not required for paid personnel.
  • Award money in small amounts can be used as an incentive, or to purchase incentives for patients or study participants

Travel

  • Co-RIG Program funding covers travel required to implement practice innovations described in the funding proposal.
  • Co-RIG Program funding cannot be used to cover travel costs to present results at conferences.

Equipment and technology development

  • Co-RIG Program funding may be used to purchase essential equipment or develop new equipment/technologies that mitigate the harmful effects of COVID-19.
  • Funding applications must outline how new equipment and technologies are needed to carry out project activities.
  • Funding may also be requested to rent/lease major equipment.
  • Equipment/Technology purchases above $5,000 require two quotes, along with receipts.

Supplies and services

  • Co-RIG funding can be used for supplies that are immediately used to carry out project activities.
  • If applicable, reasonable reimbursement for costs incurred by participants in the proposed initiative are acceptable.
  • Award money cannot be used to cover overhead expenses such as rent, utilities, etc.

Funding

  • If additional funding is being sought, or has been acquired, for your Co-RIG Program proposal, indicate the other funding source, the amount received or requested and whether the funds have been approved.

Applicants will be notified of the results formally the end of June.

Funded projects will be required to provide an interim, one-page status and impact report, three months after the start of the project. This report should provide an update on activity progress, barriers encountered, and mitigating actions taken, as well as early signs of impact.

A detailed final report, including a statement of expenditures, is required no more than two months after the end of the project (10% of project funding will be released upon the submission of a satisfactory final project report).