Article Title

Operationalizing a National Research Network

Publication Date



health services research, research administration


Background/Aims: Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) is one of the largest faith-based health care systems in America. In 2009, CHI established the CHI Institute for Research and Innovation (CIRI). CIRI is the research service line for CHI and works closely with CHI hospitals and physicians across the nationwide health system to: a) centralize administrative operations to reduce costs, b) provide training and standardize best practices to improve quality and compliance, c) increase community and physician awareness on the value of clinical research, and d) build research disease site portfolios to increase patient volumes.

Methods: The initial step in building a national research network is to establish a vision, which is then implemented through operationalizing many systematic steps to build a national network. Important stages include building the research team, the administrative infrastructure at the national level and the boots-on-the-ground clinical research staff at each local site. Standardization and streaming of processes are key to establishing a quality program and mitigating risk.

Results: The formation of CIRI was intended to improve the administrative management of clinical trials and reduce redundancy of functions at each site by centralizing and further streamlining these processes. One of the key results from this centralization has been a significant reduction in site research expenses; even with the addition of the centralized function expenses to the site expenses, total expense has been reduced from the original site expense by 40%. This reflects that the centralized model has proven to be much more cost-effective than having multiple research sites operating independently.

Conclusion: Many lessons have been learned since the initial launch of the national network: a) National and local administrative champions are essential to success; b) Take time and build the network right –– no shortcuts; c) Set SMART goals as envisioned by all stakeholders; d) Try to overcommunicate; e) Engage communities through outreach and education efforts; f) Engage industry and government partners early and often; g) Information technology infrastructure should include a clinical trial management system and website presence; and h) Standard operating procedures provide the foundation for standardization and quality monitoring.




June 29th, 2016


August 12th, 2016