Given the breadth and depth of our research programs, meeting patient enrollment targets continues to be a challenge for many clinical research studies across Partners HealthCare. It’s no surprise, but this challenge is one borne out of necessity: To protect patient privacy, our existing policy for research contact requires that a clinician known to the patient participate in the inquiry. This policy, while necessary, nevertheless adds to the time and resources required to pursue potential subjects.

This is where the Partners’ Research Opportunities Direct to You (RODY) program comes in. With RODY, there’s an alternative to the existing policy that allows patients to agree to be contacted directly by researchers without involving their clinician. This streamlined, opt-in model gives researchers access to a larger, more diverse pool of potential subjects.

Beyond the research implications, RODY also represents a validation of the collaborative Partners eCare vision. Using the flexibility and connectivity that this system provides, our hospitals and practices are now able to tackle the patient enrollment challenges that have always hindered clinical studies.

RODY works like this: Clinical front desk staff can ask patients if they are willing to be contacted directly by researchers about research studies. The patient response is noted in a registration screen as either “agree to direct contact” or “decline direct contact” (patients can also change their minds at any time). Patients who opt out of direct contact may still be reached in the usual way with a recruitment letter co-signed by one of the patient’s clinical care providers.

As of January 2017, nearly 800 clinics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Newton-Wellesley Hospital have chosen to present the RODY question to patients at check-in, and over 30,000 patients have agreed to be contacted directly by researchers about study opportunities. Through Partners eCare, researchers now have a powerful new level of access and granularity, saving them time and resources. This new freedom allows them to focus on the next breakthrough—not where their next patient pool might come from.

Currently, these patients may be contacted directly only by mail, but in the near future they’ll be reached electronically through Partners Patient Gateway. And as more patients opt in, the RODY program will continue to unite patients with researchers who are investigating the health care solutions of tomorrow – fueling the creation of new studies in addition to the more than 5,000 Partners clinical research studies currently active in our system.

Through Partners eCare, researchers now have a powerful new level of access and granularity, saving them time and resources.

Topics: Affordability, Technology, Innovation

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