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‘Key’ for research managers to embrace remote methods

SRAI 2022: Delivering clinical research online “can improve efficiency and access to participants”

Research administrators should embrace remote methods of supporting clinical studies to improve efficiency and reach a broader range of participants, according to an expert in the field.

Philip Cola, an associate professor of management and medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States, said it is important that administrators of clinical research continue using electronic methods that surged in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“For efficiency, better resource utilisation and access to larger populations of subjects, telemedicine [electronic delivery of healthcare] is a key thing to utilise,” Cola told an audience at the Society of Research Administrators International conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 2 November. 

He highlighted that carrying out parts of clinical research online avoids unnecessary transportation for participants and could cut costs. Cola pointed to consent procedures as an example of one area that had moved online and allowed processes to run more “smoothly”.

Other methods used to carry out clinical research remotely include video calls and asking participants to complete procedures at home. 

Exclusion warning

But Cola warned that using electronic methods could leave out the small subset of people who do not have access to technology. “We do not want to exclude anyone in any systematic way,” he said. 

Another speaker at the event, Madeleine Williams, a consultant at Huron Consulting Group’s Research Enterprise Solutions, added that other options than remote working still need to be considered, and that electronic methods should not be used by themselves.  

“Even though e-consent may be the desired process, there still has to be a traditional paper consent form to account for those participants who cannot or do not want to do the e-consent process,” Williams explained.