Improving the time to activation of new clinical trials at a national cancer institute-designated comprehensive cancer center

Erin Williams, Timothy J. Brown, Patrice Griffith, Asal Rahimi, Rhonda Oilepo, Hans Hammers, Theodore W Laetsch, Penny Currykosky, Susan Partridge, Muhammad S Beg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The time it takes a performing site to activate a clinical trial can directly affect the ability to provide innovative and state-of-the-art care to patients. We sought to understand the process of activating an oncology clinical trial at a matrix National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. Methods: A multidisciplinary team of stakeholders within the cancer center, university, and affiliate hospitals held a retreat to map out the process of activating a clinical trial. We applied classical quality improvement and Six Sigma methodology to determine bottlenecks and non-value-added time in activating a clinical trial. During this process, attention was paid to time to pass through each step, and perceived barriers and bottlenecks were identified through group discussions. Results: The process map identified 66 steps with 12 decision points to activate a new clinical trial. The following two steps were instituted first: allow parallel scientific committee and institutional review board (IRB) review and allow the clinical research coordination committee, a group that determines university interest and feasibility, to review protocols independent of the IRB and scientific committee approval. The clinical research coordination committee continues to track the activation time, and this framework is used to identify additional improvement steps. Conclusion: By applying quality improvement methodologies and Six Sigma principles, we were able to identify redundancies in the process to activate a clinical trial. This allowed us to redesign the process of activating a clinical trial at a matrix comprehensive cancer center. More importantly, the process map provides a framework to maintain these gains and implement additional changes and serves as an example to deploy across the campus and at other similar institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E324-E332
JournalJournal of oncology practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Improving the time to activation of new clinical trials at a national cancer institute-designated comprehensive cancer center'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this