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Leveraging Remote Research Associates During a Pandemic

  • Author(s): Cronin, Alexandrea O.
  • Carlile, Morgan A.
  • Dameff, Christian J.
  • Coyne, Christopher J.
  • Castillo, Edward M.
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has seriously impacted clinical research operations in academic medical centers due to social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders. The purpose of this paper is to describe the implementation of a program to continue clinical research based out of an emergency department (ED) using remote research associates (RA).

Methods: Remote RAs were trained and granted remote access to the electronic health record (EHR) by the health system’s core information technology team. Upon gaining access, remote RAs used a dual-authentication process to gain access to a host-based, firewall-protected virtual network where the EHR could be accessed to continue screening and enrollment for ongoing studies. Study training for screening and enrollment was also provided to ensure study continuity.

Results: With constant support and guidance available to establish this EHR access pathway, the remote RAs were able to gain access relatively independently and without major technical troubleshooting. Each remote RA was granted access and trained on studies within one week and self-reported a high degree of program satisfaction, EHR access ease, and study protocol comfort through informal evaluation surveys.

Conclusions: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we virtualized a clinical research program to continue important ED-based studies.

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