8 Mar 2016

Human Research Ethics Application - Background

In 2013-14 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia decided to develop a new ethics application form for use in human research. This new application form would replace the existing National Ethics Application Form (NEAF).

It had a lot to deliver on.

The new human research application form had to be intelligent and versatile. It had to meet the needs of all researchers who wish to conduct research involving humans. It also had to meet the needs of Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs).

While NEAF collected a lot of data, much of this information was redundant. The questions weren’t personalised based on the user and their type of research. This resulted in applicants filling out a lot of unnecessary questions. And because NEAF did not categorise information, reviewers received a lot of meaningless data. Both these key problems needed to be addressed in the new Human Research Ethics Application.

In 2015 NHMRC went out to tender to develop the new Human Research Ethics Application. They asked for responses to develop a forms based solution housed in a content management system. We responded to their request with a compliant solution using a straight smart forms based solution. We also offered an alternative solution based on our OmniStar product that uses an embedded smart forms engine. Our OmniStar product is the option they chose.

Introducing OmniStar

OmniStar is disrupting the research management, grants management and ethics management industries. This is thanks to OmniStar's unique architecture. We engineered it to meet a range of general business problems with easy configuration.

And it is this — OmniStar's advanced configurability — that is setting it apart from competitors.

The flow of information in existing solutions does not support processes in their entirety. To process missing information humans must intervene and send emails or make phone calls.

But OmniStar is different.

OmniStar is engineered to provide two-way communication. After submitting an application an applicant can log in and track its progress. It also lets applicants know if information is missing. These automated tasks minimise human intervention and free up resources. It also ensures a much smoother, intuitive application process.

OmniStar makes this possible by allowing users to control what is important to them.

Human Research Ethics Application

NHMRC's new Human Research Ethics Application benefits from OmniStar's advanced functionality.

It ensures a timely process with minimal disruptions. Applicants are able to see where their application is incomplete in real time.

The Human Research Ethics Application will also only ask questions relevant to an applicant's field. This results in many benefits. It increases the quality of data. It decreases administration time. It decreases time spent submitting an application. And it creates a better user experience.

The Human Research Ethics Application can also benefit from  an applicant's profile information being used to pre-fill fields. An applicant can also export any of their information at any time.

These advanced features create more immediate access to feedback, updates and status changes, which create new opportunities.

It is a huge leap forward in capability. And it is why OmniStar is disrupting the research, grants and ethics market segments.

But this is only one of the reasons OmniStar is disruptive. It is also architecturally engineered to empower users.

Architecturally Engineered to Empower Users

As touched on earlier, OmniStar's engineering makes it disruptive. It configures for almost any workflow, reporting, templates, triggers or access authorisation. All this is achieved without any code changes.

Perhaps most impressively, you manage your own configuration. Business users can make most changes independent of IT involvement. As your business needs change you can change the configuration within OmniStar. This ensures it continues to meet your needs.

It makes OmniStar the perfect solution for today, tomorrow and also years from now. And this was something that impressed NHMRC.

Other Benefits of OmniStar for the Human Research Ethics Application

  • Reduces user administration overheads through self-registration.
  • Better uptake of system by providing solution for anonymous users.
  • Lower data entry and greater data accuracy. This is thanks to the in-built CRM that allows users to create and maintain profiles. These profiles auto-populate fields.
  • Unprecedented reporting and data visualisation functionality using the in-built data warehouse.
  • Improves the quality of applications by facilitating collaboration. It allows several people to work on the one application.
  • Allows you to export forms in a variety of digital formats. These can be used for reports such as Board Papers, Annual Reports, websites and external stakeholder reporting.
  • Decreases administration time. Applications are submitted to a review committee in a digital format. This eliminates the need to re-key application information.
  • Provides a feedback loop to make the forms more efficient by reporting on fields' usage.
  • Better application experience. SmartForms make the application process intuitive, low effort and low error rate.
  • Consistent with Commonwealth Government's digital direction as it is as Software-as-a-Service.

OmniStar Makes Integration Easy

The Human Research Ethics Application provides HRECs with a few options for integration. HRECs are offered a choice of postal, email or electronic submissions.

It is the electronic submissions that provide the biggest benefit. It can take the entire form and import relevant data in to their systems. This maintains the existing processes and functionality in their IT systems. It is instantaneous and doesn't need users to do extra work.

The integration approach is based on industry standards. It is compatible with a large number of systems and it is opt-in. It can be used for any type of application submission integration. If additional data is required, OmniStar's web-services are available. It is all secured via certificate-based authentication, which NHMRC controls (the owning entity).  

This results in efficiency, timeliness and accuracy of information.

HRECs are also able to see the changes made to applications over various iterations. Track changes and version metadata illustrate these changes. All the functionality available to end users is also available to HRECs, which allows them to effectively assess applications.

To find out more about our OmniStar products, view our OmniResearch, OmniGrants or OmniEthics pages.