The Challenge

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is an academic hospital located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest trauma centre in Canada.

At any given time, Sunnybrook has approximately 1,900 active studies, with around 500 new submissions each year. Sunnybrook’s REB (Research Ethics Board) provides ethical oversight for the majority of these studies, for annual reviews and for reportable events throughout the year.

The types of studies carried out at Sunnybrook include:

  • Clinical trials (Phase 1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Qualitative studies and case studies
  • Human tissue and biological specimens
  • Educational
  • Epidemiological / Database

With a paper-based model for its ethics review process, Sunnybrook’s main challenge was the large volumes of paper files stored both on-site and in archive facilities. For example, full board submissions took around one month and required 30 copies of the application forms and submission documents.

Sunnybrook wanted a digital ethics review and management process that allowed them to coordinate application forms and signatures electronically, as well as to record audit trails and reduce paper and storage costs. The solution needed to be online, user-friendly and easily configurable.

The Solution - Ethics RM

The right solution for Sunnybrook was Ethics RM. With some anxiety from users about moving from paper to an online review process, Sunnybrook decided on a phased roll-out. Monthly teleconferences with Infonetica took place to ensure the implementation process went smoothly. The soft launch allowed issues or concerns to be identified and solved quickly.

Sunnybrook named its version of Ethics Review Manager the Sunnybrook REB Information System, “SunRISE”, which became the required system of record for all ethics submissions and review from March 2020.

It’s much easier to do delegated reviews in the system – it’s more systematic, and you don’t need to flip through pages to find sections as they’re all linked online.
REB Member

The Outcome

Applicants now use the system’s handy “completeness checker”, which prevents incomplete applications being submitted. Sunnybrook also makes good use of the in-built, customisable “help text” feature, which allows administrators to add and edit question-specific information and guidance.