Leveraging Insights from the Academic Medical Center/VA Affiliation: Does My Clinical Research Colleague at the Affiliate Know Something I Don’t Know…?

By SRAI News posted 12-09-2020 15:51


Leveraging Insights from the Academic Medical Center/VA Affiliation: Does My Clinical Research Colleague at the Affiliate Know Something I Don’t Know…?

My career positions in academic research have provided unique insight into how the academic medical center (AMC) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) affiliation function in support of the tripartite mission: medical education, patient care and researchBy way of background, I was fortunate to work for the VA Headquarters, Office of Research in Washington, DC for 12 years followed by the Department of Medicine, at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, SC for 16 years. 

Many of you working at AMCs recognize the importance of VA research funding to augment faculty salaries for joint AMC/VA appointments.  In the research context, the AMC/VA partnership offers significant research infrastructure economies as well.   In the case of our Charleston VA, and for many VAs across the US, the AMC and VA often share research space, lab equipment, and other basic and clinical research infrastructure in co-leased research buildings to support the conduct of research and research training. 

My work history managing VA and non-VA funded research affords me the opportunity to hopefully share my experiences with SRAI colleagues who manage research in these settings and identify “golden nuggets” or lessons learned over the years.  It’s my goal as an SRAI member to meet as many of you as possible (hopefully in person at a future SRAI conference) and be a resource to you. While I now work for Greenphire, my role continues to support your clinical research mission. 

In this article, the “golden nugget” relates to clinical research conducted at VAs and AMCs that I’ve noticed while working for Greenphire the past two years; I’m seeing the product which I support ClinCard (a reloadable debit card for research participant payments), being increasingly adopted by the VA National Veterans Research and Education Foundation (NAVREF) non-profit corporations (NPCs) and across AMC and undergraduate universities.  There are now 25 VA NPCs, 84 academic medical centers, and 14 undergraduate universities using ClinCard with exponential adoption partially influenced by COVID-19.    

As SRAI research professionals, we understand that collaboration and communication among our local and national colleagues is critical to success.  Therefore, I wanted to share what I’m seeing nationally within the VA and the AMC research affiliation that I believe could lead to beneficial discussion.  I see that ClinCard adoption exists in four scenarios:

  1. Both the academic medical center and the VA NPC are using ClinCard
  2. The academic medical center is using ClinCard but the VA NPC is not
  3. The academic medical center is not using ClinCard, but the VA NPC is
  4. Neither the academic medical center nor the VA NPC are using ClinCard

I believe these four scenarios provide a great opportunity for cross-communication between the VA NPCs and AMC PIs, study coordinators, and research administrators regarding their experiences with patient reimbursement using ClinCard (or what they heard about it) and what some of the benefits have been.   Hence the title of this article, “Does My Research Colleague at the VA/AMC Affiliate Know Something I Don’t Know?”  Great question😊!

Lastly, in 2020, we saw COVID-related clinical research shutdowns creating an increased recognition that outdated payment methods of checks and miscellaneous gift cards needed to be replaced with contemporary digital payment.  This trend has been accelerated by rapid adoption of telemedicine and remote study visits.  The old process of requiring study personnel to physically hand or mail a participant a gift card or check for every visit was not practical or feasible for many academic and universities in 2020.   I discovered this problem over eight years ago and helped lead the effort for ClinCard adoption at MUSC, and through my role at Greenphire, with many colleagues at VAs and AMCs across the country.       

If you’d like to learn more about leveraging the value of ClinCard and how it can streamline clinical research management, I can be reached at joe.gough@greenphire.com or you can submit this form to schedule a demo.


Authored by Joe Gough, MA, Solutions Specialist, Medical Centers and University Accounts