How Researchers Are Tapping Into Regional Healthcare Needs – and Accessing Key Population Health Issues

An innovative solution has overcome barriers

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Cleveland Clinic’s Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health Institute (WHI) is committed to advancing women’s health through high-impact and rigorous clinical research. Its patients are diverse, and they are served at both the main campus and regional facilities. It is, therefore, critical that research efforts take place in all of the WHI’s geographic locations, to ensure it can best advance understanding of the leading issues in women’s health and develop new diagnostics and therapeutics to address them.

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Historically, however, it has been difficult to extend research efforts out from the main campus to the region. This has presented barriers for both researchers enrolling participants in studies and for patients wishing to learn about current studies taking place.

Successfully bridging the gap

But about two years ago the institute developed a solution that has successfully bridged the gap — the Women’s Health Institute Regional Research Advocate Program (RRAP). The RRAP utilizes point persons across Cleveland Clinic’s regional family health centers and hospitals in Northeast Ohio. These point persons, or advocates, are physicians, midwives and nurse practitioners who have an interest in and understand the importance of research. They assist researchers in disseminating information about studies and in recruiting participants from the regional practices.

RRAP has allowed researchers to tap into the healthcare needs and priorities of the region, accessing key population health issues. “This is a powerful network to support clinical research in the WHI,” says Ruth Farrell, MD, MA, Vice Chair for Research, Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health Institute. “It is important for patients in the region to have access to clinical studies just as they do at the main campus. This program helps make that possible, highlighting the importance of our regional communities in answering questions that affect women’s health. Research can help patients the best when it addresses the health issues they are dealing with.”

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Solution enabling even more research

Dr. Farrell adds that the institute has been able to increase the number of studies it is conducting because of the access to more people through these liaisons in the community. Initial efforts have focused on expanding studies on prenatal genetic testing, hypertension in pregnancy, and gynecologic infections.

“The Regional Research Advocate Program is just one of the ways the WHI is better able to advance Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to patient care, research and education,” she says.

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