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Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine has a strong tradition of research, especially in cardiology.

The LG Health Research Institute hopes to spread that culture of research to more specialties by providing support for physicians to pursue research projects.

Roy S. Small, M.D., Medical Director of the Lancaster General Health Research Institute, encourages more physicians to get involved in research.

“We’ve participated in some major trials and gotten access to drugs and devices long before the rest of the general cardiology community,” Medical Director Roy S. Small, M.D., said. “Formal research trials lead to better outcomes for patients. It also keeps physicians up-to-date and engaged in their specialties.”

Director of Research Biostatistics and Quality Mike Horst said that at any given time, the institute supports varying numbers of commercial clinical trials, as well as 40 to 50 investigator-initiated research projects by Medical & Dental Staff members, residents, nursing, pharmacy and others. (The Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute also participates in ongoing oncology trials.)

Dr. Small, a cardiologist with The Heart Group, said nephrologists, vascular and other surgeons also have pursued recent research projects, and he encourages other specialists to get involved. While most physicians do research on their own time, the institute provides research nurses and the administrative support required to safely and successfully perform clinical trials.

“Our job is help and encourage physicians to pursue research projects,” he said. “We have the resources to support you and make it easy for you to do research.”

Director of Research Operations Cath Forney said the institute’s research experience and established relationships lead to more invitations to participate in national studies.

“Consistent results and effective enrollment over the years have afforded us opportunities that are not commonly given to community hospitals,” she said.

Administrative Director Barbara K. Martin said the institute takes extensive steps to ensure the safety of research participants. Those efforts recently led to accreditation by the Association for Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs.

“AAHRPP accreditation adds legitimacy and ensures effective ongoing monitoring for patient protection in research,” Martin said. “Penn Medicine is accredited, and more community hospitals are seeking accreditation.”

Dr. Small said the institute hopes to share resources with Penn in such areas as clinical management software and patient recruitment.

“Penn is a great research institute,” he said. “As a community hospital, we have a different focus. But there are some areas where we can work together.”

The institute’s largest clinical trials enroll 50 to 100 patients, but many involve just a handful of participants. The institute recruits patients through outreach to practices and providers. Alerts in Epic also inform providers of patients who are possible candidates for a study.
Some of the largest observational studies include more than 300,000 patients with data extracted from Epic and focus on biostatistical analyses to study factors associated with various outcomes.
“We encourage all providers to participate in research and consider referring patients for trials when appropriate,” Dr. Small said.

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