Connect people to appropriate health research participation opportunities
Improving medical care relies on new knowledge gained from health research. Yet, recruiting volunteers into clinical research remains a significant challenge for many health research study teams across the country. We developed UMHealthResearch to meet this challenge. UMHealthResearch is an award-winning online platform where people can engage with health researchers, and get connected to appropriate health research participation opportunities.
I have led a team of designers in researching, crafting, launching and evaluating every part of the user experience for UMHealthResearch.
UMHealthResearch has users from 194 countries. It has over 35,000 volunteers registered to participate in research studies at U-M alone. Over 2,600 research studies have successfully recruited using the platform. Since 2013, over 193,000 connections have been made between researchers at U-M and potential participants.
Recognized for it’s human-centered design, the platform is now being adopted by various institutions across the country.
UMHealthResearch is the best designed, most user friendly recruitment platform we have come across. And we have looked at many. — Stakeholder at Stanford University
1. Health research studies close prematurely because of a dearth of volunteer participation
Improving medical care relies on new knowledge gained from research. Yet, recruiting volunteers into clinical research remains a significant challenge for many health research study teams at Michigan and beyond, particularly as limited funding necessitates shorter timelines to engage participants. Thousands of health researchers across the country are investigating ideas that may lead to improved health and quality of life. A major challenge is accruing volunteers willing to participate in health research studies, and as a result, some studies are closed prematurely, causing wasted time and money, and missed opportunities for discovery.
2. More volunteers would participate if they were asked and had easy access to information about opportunities
On the other hand, having access to cutting-edge health research is the reason thousands of patients choose Michigan Medicine for their care. Data show that there are over 80,000 clinical trials conducted each year in the United States, however, less than 2% of the population participates. It is well established that most of the public is either not informed of the need for volunteer participation in clinical research, or cannot access health research opportunities easily, or there is a fear or mistrust of medical and clinical research. Engaging patients around health research towards debunking myths and inviting participation is an essential strand of the Michigan experience fabric. However, knowing which research studies are taking place at the University of Michigan and which ones are right for them is a difficult ask for patients, their families, caregivers and the community at large. Research shows that more potential volunteers would participate in studies if only they were asked and had easy access to information about opportunities. Learn more.
Number of clinical trials conducted in the US each year
Percentage of population that participates in clinical trials
Medical research is vital to the advancement of health care, but many medical studies have too few people who participate.
UMHealthResearch is a platform that aims to spread awareness about health research, connect people willing to participate in health research to appropriate studies, engage people in health research and help create conversations around the topic of health research. It involves a mobile-friendly, human-centered web application, an engaged community and an inclusive brand creating a unified experience around health research.
1. Allows participants to search for studies and show interest
Participants can search using various parameters. They can then show interest in the studies that fit them.
2. Matches potential participants to appropriate studies
The platform matches potential participants to relevant studies. It then notifies participants of those studies while also notifying study teams of matching participants.
3. Lets researchers manage their participants and interact with them
Study teams can access information about interested participants and securely follow up with them from within the platform.
4. Helps the institution create a participant registry along the way
As participants show interest in studies, they are being added to a registry with their consent. This pool of potential volunteers is available for all future studies at your institution.
I like that I can message study teams and they respond to me. Other registries just let me put my information in, but I never hear anything from anyone. I can show interest and be proactive on UMHealthResearch.org.
When UMHealthResearch launched I quickly had an amazing increase not only in participants who were interested in my studies but also many who actually qualified.
Connections made between researchers at U-M and potential participants
Number of participants signed up to be a part of health research at the University of Michigan alone
Messages exchanged between volunteers and study teams
Number of countries that our users come from
Number of studies at U-M that have recruited using UMHealthResearch
Number of institutions across the country that are in the process of adopting UMHealthResearch
My daughter suffers from a condition and I was looking for research at U-M that may be able to help her or others like her. I didn’t know where to look at first, but I found UMHealthResearch.org and started a loved one account for my daughter. We get studies for her sent to us all the time, that without the site we wouldn’t have known about.
In our department we not only use UMHealthResearch for potential research volunteers, but also for our referring physicians. Our department has a referring physician liaison who goes out into the community and discusses our current research trials being conducted, and she will direct the referring physicians to UMHealthResearch to look for active trials for their patients.
Typical Development Process
This phase involves creating empathy. Design starts with people and we spend a lot of time understanding people, what they do, how they do it and what they feel when they are doing things. This involves a lot of observations, ethnographic research, job shadowing and creative ways of getting to know what people think and feel.
This phase involves redefining the problem, questioning long held assumptions, designing in meaning, ideating, prototyping, testing and continuously iterating. We focus on creating human-driven experiences that solve problems and inspire delight.
It does not matter how good a design is if its not built well. This phase focuses on synthesis and convergence, putting our best foot forward in terms of crafting and delivering a robust, highly involved and reliable product that carries the same emotions and humanity with which it is designed.
Excerpt from a letter nominating Aalap Doshi for the Presidents Innovation Award
The letter was drafted by Jamie Racklyeft, Communication Director at MICHR, and his team. Aalap was one of the top nominees for the award and received a letter from the President of the University of Michigan complementing him on his work.