The Clinical Research Program was established in 1995 with the mission to increase the quality, quantity, and efficiency of translating basic scientific advances into improved care for patients.
The Information Management Unit, a collaboration with the Laboratory of Computer Science, helps to formulate strategic direction in information systems supporting clinical research. The groups develops resources for investigators, educators, and volunteers and manages research registries for multiple disease areas. They were also responsible for several early disease management and population health systems, including the HIV FastTrack alerting system.
For study volunteers
LCS designs, implements and supports public web sites that enhance recruitment into clinical studies at the institution.
LCS supports web-based toolkits for clinical investigators and study staff seeking resources for planning and designing studies, finding funding sources, preparing grant submissions, and managing day-to-day protocol activities.
For partners in clinical research
LCS participates in highly focused collaborations on informatics-based interventions in disease management and patient registries.
RSVP for Health
The Research Study Volunteer Program, better known as RSVP for Health, is a public-facing website that enhances recruitment into clinical trials.
Potential participants are able to register themselves by their interests, including disease-specific interests, interest for family members, and interest in healthy volunteer studies. Registered individuals receive information about clinical research studies that are active at Mass General and participating Partners locations.
Study coordinators and investigators can then use the system to contact potential study volunteers directly. All participant identities are private until participants choose to identify themselves.
By the end of 2013, RSVP for Health contained over 23,305 registrants, up from 22,100 registered in 2012. The registrants’ therapeutic interests reflect common disorders such as diabetes, obesity, mental health, cardiovascular disease, and others. Of the 23,305 total registrants 17,500 have indicated an interest in participating in studies as healthy volunteers or controls in addition to participating in therapeutic studies.
This program has been so successful that now both Mass General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital research staff use it as a resource to recruit study subjects.
Partners Clinical Research Trials
The Partners Clinical Trials site, managed by the CRP, is another public-facing tool that assists in study recruitment. Potential study volunteers can search open clinical trials at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and other Partners HealthCare institutions.
For investigators, it provides a streamlined workflow to post and distribute listings, with easy integration into departmental web pages. Listings are distributed through automatic weekly emails and a Partners Clinical Trial Twitter account.
Research patient data registry
The RPDR is a warehouse of clinical data from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Faulkner Hosptial, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hosital, and Newton Wellesley Hospital available for research purposes. Data in the RPDR includes diagnoses, demographics, procedures, laboratory tests, medications, health maintenance and vital sign information, blood bank data, radiology and pathology reports and operative, discharge, endoscopy, cardiology and pulmonary results, as well as some genetic test data.
For patient privacy and security, all identifying data is encrypted in the RPDR warehouse, making individual patients unrecognizable. The RPDR synthesizes these data in a computerized system that allows the research community to explore connections between them, formulate hypotheses, and gather information for clinical trials much more expediently and efficiently than in the past.
Clinical Research Handbook
The Clinical Research Handbook and Clinical Research Oncall are intranet references and toolkits for clinical investigators and study staff. LCS built the framework, while content is developed by Clinical Research staff. The references provide easily accessible resources for planning and designing studies, finding funding sources, preparing grant submissions, and managing day-to-day protocol activities.
Clinical Research Hub
Although the Hub has expanded to serve the unique needs of many departments throughout Partners HealthCare, it began as a powerful, interactive teaching tool to support the educational mission of the Partners Clinical Research Program.
Offering online resources and learning modules as well as tools for knowledge management and collaboration, the Hub continues to play a significant role in the Clinical Research Program.