The AHS EMS Research Committee Operational Review Process is designed to assess the risk, impact and benefit for the AHS EMS system of participating in proposed research projects. Since all research projects have some form of risk and impact, it is critical that the AHS EMS system directs its resources towards research that will provide evidence-based information to improve the care of Albertans.
The AHS EMS Research Committee Operational Review Process consists of five broad steps that are summarized in Figure 1.
Figure 1: AHS EMS Research Committee Broad Review Process
Here is a detailed process map of the AHS EMS Research Committee Operational Review Process.
AHS EMS Research Committee Operational Review Process Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is an operational review? An operational review of proposed research within AHS EMS is defined as a review by the AHS EMS Research committee to determine the risk, impact, and benefit of participating in a proposed research project. It is conducted by a review team representing the areas of EMS that may be impacted by the research (e.g., dispatch, operations, education, etc.).
- What is involved with an AHS EMS operational review? The AHS EMS Research Committee reviews the materials provided by the researcher to determine the risk, impact and benefit for the AHS EMS system and then provides this information to AHS EMS senior leadership to make an informed decision on the merits of being involved in the proposed research. The AHS EMS Research Committee strives to complete a research review within six weeks from the receipt of the required information. Some studies may take longer to review as their risk and impact may be extensive and require more discussion or information.
- Do I have to do an operational review? The AHS EMS Research Committee reviews all research conducted within the AHS EMS system. Information from this review is critical for AHS EMS senior leaders to make an informed decision on whether the AHS EMS system can participate in the proposed research. The AHS EMS system works with AHS Research and Alberta Research Ethics Boards (REBs) to ensure that it participates in research that promotes improved patient care and system efficiency, while respecting and protecting the privacy and wellbeing of research participants and EMS staff.
- What is the difference between an operational review and an ethics review? In Alberta there are three Research Ethics Boards (REBs) designated under the Health Information Act to review and approve health research. These boards review research using the TriCouncil Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. While an REB may provide ethical oversight to suggest a research proposal is ethical, it does not mean that the system in which the research will be conducted has the resources to be able to participate in the research. An operational review by the system in which the research is proposed to take place is a critical step in ensuring that the risks and impacts of the proposed research are mitigated where possible; and where not possible are minimized, and the potential benefits of the research are maximized.
- What are the potential benefits of an operational review?
- An operational review, which takes place in the planning phase of a project, often results in considerable time savings later in the project.
- Since an operational review engages those that work within the EMS system, risks to research participants can be mitigated and minimized.
- An operational review facilitates the mitigation of the risk and impact to the EMS system, to patients and personnel, which may result in a safer study and potential cost savings for the research team.
- End users of the research are involved in the operational review, ensuring that the right research questions are being asked and promoting (from the planning stage) the use of the research to inform practice and policy.
In short, an operational review promotes communication between the research team and those who work in the system and ultimately the end users of the research. These discussions can save time and resources for both the researcher and the publicly funded health care system, and create more useful knowledge to inform practice and policy.