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eSmart portal set to bolster clinical research enterprise

Jul. 20, 2017, 9:02 AM

Members of the EpicLeap team and faculty advisers answer questions during Monday’s EpicLeap for Research Town Hall. (photo by Joe Howell)

About 250 research staff members attended an EpicLeap for Research Town Hall on Monday to learn what they must do to prepare for the Nov. 2 launch of eStar, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s version of the Epic clinical, administrative and billing software system.

On the agenda: a new research regulatory portal for clinical research called eSMART, which is designed to identify regulatory review requirements for specific studies, enable research billing compliance and provide a comprehensive service capability.

Scheduled to go live on Aug. 1, eSMART will incorporate administrative, data collection and billing functions for clinical research now conducted through programs such as StarBRITE and, at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, OnCore.

Gordon Bernard, M.D., VUMC’s Executive Vice President for Research, said “the combination of eSTAR, eSMART and OnCore creates a solid and user-friendly platform to optimize fully compliant charging and billing of clinical costs incurred in the process of conducting clinical research.”

Training is essential. Depending on their involvement with human subjects in clinical research, nurses, study coordinators, research scientists and faculty may need to complete on-line eStar training and/or four-to-eight hours of in-person course work.

In most cases, colleagues will work with their managers to ensure they are enrolled in the right training classes, though some faculty members can register themselves. The EpicLeap training team will be supporting the registration process and can help with any issues.

Link, link, link — that’s the eStar mantra, said Amy Griffith, senior research analyst for the EpicLeap Ambulatory Team.

“It’s very, very important that we link patient encounters” to studies, Griffith said. “That is what drives the whole billing functionality.”

Marc Beller, senior business analyst with Vanderbilt Health IT who moderated the Town Hall said linking is particularly important when research involves imaging. “Failure to link an imaging order to a study could result in a routine imaging procedure being performed instead of special imaging,” he said.

Beller acknowledged during a half-hour-long Q&A session that there will be a few bumps in the road as the new systems are implemented.

But David Robertson, M.D., medical director of the Vanderbilt Clinical Research Center who attended the Town Hall, said the consensus among his colleagues and staff is that eStar is the way to go to advance the capabilities of Vanderbilt’s research enterprise.

“We’re not losing anything by moving to eStar,” Robertson said.

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