Maximizing Clinical Research Efficiencies in Academic Medical Centers

April 12 2019  

In my first blog, I shared information on my personal and professional background, specifically how I implemented the ClinCard patient payment system that was the impetus for me joining Greenphire.

Today, I’d like to share additional experiences and insights that can benefit academic medical centers considering implementing new technologies, including financial software.

What is unique about conducting a research study at an academic medical center vs. other research sites?

In my market segment area, we’re working with AMCs and undergraduate universities, so the unique feature of the AMC is the hospital and health care system. The health system environment carries all the associated complexities of the EMR, CTMS, HIPAA, clinical trial billing compliance, and navigating the IT infrastructure of various systems. The other major unique feature of an AMC is that most PIs are wearing two if not three hats. Besides conducting research, they are providing patient care and are teaching medical students and residents. The demands on time and productivity of AMC faculty are significant.

Finally, given the health care system, the scope and volume of clinical trials involving internal medicine and the associated regulatory oversight from the FDA; Pharma sponsors; and various entities overseeing drug and device development compliance is significantly greater vs. an undergraduate university.

How can AMC’s benefit from talking to other AMCs?

Significantly. Despite their individual uniqueness (public vs private, city vs rural, geographical variations) AMCs have the same tripartite mission: research; medical education and patient care. AMCs are all trying to optimize the quality and efficiency of what they do. Therefore, it makes great sense to network and share best practices with colleagues. This is done extensively in academia already because of the common AMC mission and emphasis on scholarship and publications.

In your experience talking to AMCs, are certain departments more likely to adopt a payment technology?

Larger, higher study volume departments usually stand to benefit the most from automated payments just based on level of activity. But decisions to adopt the technology for the benefit of the entire enterprise (the best approach) is often dependent on the “vision” of key stakeholders. In almost every case, the stakeholders realize their current method of participant payment and accounting is antiquated and suboptimal.

Our mission at Greenphire staff is education. Our team regularly educate AMCs regarding the functional value of the ClinCard system; the product costs and resulting cost-savings (ROI); and the positive impact the product will have on the users (finance and study management staff, and the study participants) and the overall improved site performance (recruitment and retention) from the perspective of the study sponsor and PI.

What advice do you have for other site personnel who may be interested in exploring new solutions or technology?

Talk to you academic colleagues regarding implementation or evaluation of certain technologies. What did they conclude were the pros and cons of different technologies and how long and complex was the implementation? What was the cost, outcome, and is the system user friendly and reliable?

Currently, the most common IT systems being implemented across AMCs are EMR and CTMS systems.

What is the best place for AMC’s to learn about new technologies?

Certainly, the national consortium of approximately 60 NIH-funded CTSA (Clinical Translational Science Award) AMC sites are on the cutting edge of managing emerging technologies. Networking with the CTSA group and with any professional academic organization of your peers is a great way to gather information. Attending clinical trial educational conferences and on-line webinars offered by colleagues and vendors such as Greenphire are also ways to stay engaged.

How do AMC’s ensure that they do not cross ethical boundaries to incentivize the wrong patients from participating in research?

I don’t see this as an issue because, in my experience, IRBs in academia are exceedingly careful and thoughtful in assessing any possibility of coercion, unethical enrollment, or enticement of study participants. In addition, the IRB Informed Consent language regarding the participant payment is often standardized at AMCs. Any deviation would draw scrutiny. Academic faculty volunteering to work on IRBs are a highly compassionate and purposely conservative group with the respect to their responsibility for assessing patient risk and research ethics.

Next Steps

I’d love to hear what other questions you have regarding ClinCard or ideas for future blog topics. Just complete the comment form below or email me at

Also, are you interested in learning more about using Clincard? Schedule a Demo now or call 215-609-4365 for more information.

Joe Gough
Joe Gough
Solutions Specialist for Academic Medical Centers and Universities

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