The use of electronic health records for recruitment in clinical trials: a mixed methods analysis of the Harmony Outcomes Electronic Health Record Ancillary Study.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Multicenter Study)

BACKGROUND: The electronic health record (EHR) contains a wealth of clinical data that may be used to streamline the identification of potential clinical trial participants. However, there is little empirical information on site-level facilitators of and barriers to optimal use of EHR systems with respect to trial recruitment. METHODS: We conducted qualitative focus groups and quantitative surveys as part of the EHR Ancillary Study, which is being conducted alongside the multicenter, global, Harmony Outcomes Trial comparing albiglutide to standard care for the prevention of cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes. Subject matter experts used findings from focus groups to draft a 20-question survey examining the use of the EHR for participant identification, common site recruitment strategies, and variation in perceived barriers to optimal use of the EHR. The final survey was fielded with 446 site investigators actively enrolling participants in the main trial. RESULTS: Nearly two-thirds of respondents were study coordinators (63.2%), 23.1% were principal investigators, and 13.7% held other research roles. Approximately half of the respondents reported using the EHR to find potential trial participants. Of these, 79.4% reported using EHR searches in conjunction with other recruitment methods, including reviewing of upcoming clinic schedules (75.3%) and contacting past trial participants (71.2%). Important barriers to optimal use of the EHR included the lack of availability of certain research-focused EHR modules and limitations on the ability to contact patients cared for by other providers. Of survey respondents who did not use the EHR to find potential participants, one-quarter reported that the EHR was not accessible in their country; this finding varied from 2.6% of respondents in North America to 50% of respondents in the Asia Pacific. CONCLUSIONS: While EHR screening was commonly used for recruitment in a cardiovascular outcomes trial, important technical, governance, and regulatory barriers persist. Multifaceted, scalable, and customizable strategies are needed to support the optimal use of the EHR for trial participant identification. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02465515. Registered on 8 June 2015.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • O'Brien, EC; Raman, SR; Ellis, A; Hammill, BG; Berdan, LG; Rorick, T; Janmohamed, S; Lampron, Z; Hernandez, AF; Curtis, LH

Published Date

  • July 19, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 465 -

PubMed ID

  • 34281607

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8287813

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-6215

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s13063-021-05397-0


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England