Modeling Clinical Processes to Consent Research Donors of Remnant Biospecimens in an Outpatient Cardiology Clinic

Introduction: Informed consent for research biospecimen donations is traditionally obtained through a face-to-face interaction with research staff and by signing an Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved printed form. Electronic signatures (eSign) are routinely used in the electronic medical record (EMR) for the consenting of clinical services after patients review printed documentation. Our goal was to develop an electronic self-consenting workflow that mimicked clinical services. Specifically, we tested a research consent process for the biobanking of remnant clinical samples that relies solely on clinical resources in a busy outpatient practice.

Materials and Methods: The Biorepositories Core Resource (BCR) unit initiated a new enterprise-wide biobanking infrastructure for consenting patients, termed Biospecimen Use for Research-Related Investigations and Translational Objectives (BURRITO). BURRITO is modeled after an established clinical process called Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS). The TACOS requires patients to annually review printed documentation and self-consent electronically for clinical services. BURRITO also requires patients to review printed documentation and self-consent with eSign to opt-in for remnant biospecimen banking, but patients must complete this process only once. We captured eSign for consents directly into the EMR without research staff.

Results: Patients reviewed the IRB-approved documents and self-consented during their cardiology clinic visit. At checkout, their participation preferences were electronically documented by clinic staff. During a 6-month period, 123 patients agreed to donate. After a review of process, a second 3-month period identified 202 patients agreeing to donate. BURRITO did not require face-to-face interactions with research staff, used a “no-paper” eSign for consent, and created discrete fields in the clinical EMR of the patient's preference.

Conclusions: BURRITO electronically documents informed consent using an EMR functionality and the least amount of clinical and research resources. Our results show promise for developing institutionally adopted processes, which could leverage existing clinical workflows for universal research consenting and scalability.

The UC Davis Biorepositories Core Resource (BCR) unit is managed by the Clinical and Translational Science Center and received an NCATS Administrative Supplement to develop a Virtual Biorepository Discovery Tool.

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