An initiative using informatics to facilitate clinical research planning and recruitment in the VA health care system
Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications
Cooperative studies program (CSP) Network of dedicated enrollment sites (NODES) VA informatics and computing infrastructure (VINCI) A B S T R A C T Background: Randomized clinical trials are the gold standard for evaluating healthcare interventions and, more generally, add to the medical knowledge related to the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of diseases and conditions. Recent literature continues to identify health informatics methods that can help improve study efficiency throughout the
... ife cycle of a clinical trial. Electronic medical record (EMR) data provides a mechanism to facilitate clinical trial research during the study planning and execution phases, and ultimately, can be utilized to enhance recruitment. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a strong history of clinical and epidemiological research with over four decades of data collected from Veterans it has served nationwide. The VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI) provides VA research investigators with a nationwide view of high-value VA patient data. Within VA, the Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES) is a consortium of nine sites that are part of an embedded clinical research infrastructure intended to provide systematic site-level solutions to issues that arise during the conduct of VA CSP clinical research. This paper describes the collaboration initiated by the Salt Lake City (SLC) node site to bring informatics and clinical trials together to enhance study planning and recruitment within the VA. Methods: The SLC VA Medical Center physically houses both VINCI and a node site and the co-location of these two groups prompted a natural collaboration on both a local and national level. One of the functions of the SLC NODES is to enhance recruitment and promote the success of CSP projects. VINCI supports these efforts by providing VA researchers access to potential population pools. VINCI can provide 1) feasibility data during study planning, and 2) active patient lists during recruitment. The process for CSP study teams to utilize these services involves regulatory documentation, development of queries, revisions to the initial data request, and ongoing communications with several key study personnel including the requesting research team, study statisticians, and VINCI data managers. Results: The early efforts of SLC NODES and VINCI aimed to provide patient lists exclusively to the SLC CSP study teams for the following purposes: 1) increasing recruitment for trials that were struggling to meet their respective enrollment goals, and 2) decreasing the time required by study coordinators to complete chart review activities. This effort was expanded to include multiple CSP sites and studies. To date, SLC NODES has facilitated the delivery of these VINCI services to nine active CSP studies. Conclusion: The ability of clinical trial study teams to successfully plan and execute their respective trials is contingent upon their proficiency in obtaining data that will help them efficiently and effectively recruit and enroll eligible participants. This collaboration demonstrates that the utilization of a model that partners two distinct entities, with similar objectives, was effective in the provision of feasibility and patient lists to clinical trial study teams and facilitation of clinical trial research within a large, integrated healthcare system.