Whole practice approach to research

The Rame Group Practice Cornwall

The problem

We realised that we were missing opportunities to inform patients about the research activities that we were involved in and decided to reinvigorate the concept of research within our practice. We only had two Good Clinical Practice (GCP) trained physicians available to recruit patients into trials, meaning we were only able to provide limited options to patients.

The Bright Idea

We ran a two-hour workshop during a staff education afternoon in which we explained the need for health research, why we should participate as a practice and asked staff to think of innovative ways to identify new participants. One of the ideas presented by the research team was that every time a member of staff refers a potential patient the staff member is given a raffle ticket to be entered into a free prize draw. This has been initiated and the draw takes place during weekly meetings. This helps to keep research high on everyone's agenda.

In addition, we also have a monthly prize for the member of staff who has referred the most patients to be successfully recruited. We expanded the initiative further in by providing GCP training for all our staff to create a more flexible workforce to enable us to opportunistically recruit patients into studies as they present in clinic. Ensuring all our staff are GCP trained, including registrars and allied pharmacy staff, has enabled us to expand the number and type of studies we get involved in.

We funded the GCP staff training afternoon, covering locum cover costs. The GCP training was provided with CRN support. We anticipated recruitment to increase by 50% when all staff were able to approach and recruit patients. Other initiatives that we have implemented include:

  • quarterly newsletters for both patients and staff
  • a new research display board in the patient waiting area which we update regularly with news and developments

The impact

Patients

Feedback from a recent CRN patient experience questionnaire has demonstrated that that patients feel we should be involved in research, feel more valued when they are in a research study and feel they have learnt more about their disease.

Workforce

Our own patient feedback showed that a high proportion of patients were aware of research taking place at the surgery and showed keen interest. Verbal feedback has shown that there is raised awareness across the whole team of the need for research, and staff feel more educated about research. There is improved morale in the team as all staff feel more valued for their efforts. Staff also feel more empowered to approach patients.

Practice

There has been a big uplift in recruitment with 235 patients recruited since the initiative began. The average number of new referrals is also rising, with referrals coming from both clinical and non-clinical teams. On the back of this we have been open to more studies and our profile is increased for research in the UK. We recently received a CRN certificate of congratulation on being the highest recruiter to research studies in Cornwall.

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