Site Highlight: Staten Island University Hospital makes CONNECT-ions for successful recruitment

The SIUH CONNECT-HF team with their gong, used to recognize each study participant enrolled

One of the challenges with recruitment for any clinical trial can be starting the conversation with a potential participant. Members of the CONNECT-HF study team at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) have learned that first establishing a connection with the patient can go a long way.

“We start the conversation by introducing ourselves and asking how the person is feeling,” said Ashley Eapen, clinical research coordinator in the department of research at SIUH. “After they tell us their symptoms, we can relate the study to them specifically, while also explaining the reasons they are eligible to participate.”

SIUH joined the CONNECT-HF project in May 2018, and are one of 11 CONNECT-HF sites in New York. They are the 7th highest enrolling site in the study and currently have 121 participants enrolled. The SIUH team said that they have learned that being friendly and personalizing the benefits of the study to potential participants on an individual level helps them with study enrollment.

“What seems to capture patients’ interest the most is when we mention that the study aims to limit repeat hospitalizations for those with chronic heart failure,” said Eapen.

The study team has also found that focusing on symptoms, rather than the diagnosis of chronic heart failure, can help patients understand both their condition and the study. Some patients find chronic heart failure to be a scary diagnosis, or may not realize they have the condition. In these cases, the SIUH CONNECT-HF team always encourages patients to talk more with their doctors.

The SIUH team shared that the most effective approach to talking with patients is to make sure the patient feels cared for and doesn’t feel that you are only interested in them as a potential participant. Having engaging conversations with any patient can help study teams learn more about what is important to people living with chronic health failure and to help make connections on how to help them improve their lives.

The study team also celebrates milestones for the team and for participants, and starts off with ringing a gong each time a new participant is enrolled. This way, they can recognize each individual and mark the beginning of the participant’s journey in CONNECT-HF.

CONNECT-HF reaches site activation goal

Congratulations to the CONNECT-HF Team for meeting their total site activation goal of 160 sites in October.

CONNECT-HF is a large-scale, pragmatic, cluster-randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effect of a customized, multifaceted, health system-level quality-improvement (QI) program compared with usual care on heart failure (HF) outcomes and HF quality-of-care metrics, led by principal investigator Adam DeVore, MD. The trial plans to enroll 7040 participants at 160 hospitals across the United States. The goal is to evaluate different ways of improving the overall quality of care available to people with heart failure, and to help them gain the greatest benefit from the treatments and health management advice they receive.

The trial began recruiting sites in April 2017.

“We are so pleased to reach our site activation goal for this study,” said DeVore. “We are learning that the changes hospitals make in CONNECT-HF can be system-wide and impact many more patients than only those in the trial, and we are excited about the potential public health impact in learning how to best manage treatment of heart failure.”

The study will follow participants for one year post discharge.


Meet a Cardi-Yack: Fredonia

Using her own personal experiences, Fredonia Williams hopes to make a difference in the CONNECT-HF study and in the lives of people recently diagnosed with heart failure. Support for patients with heart failure is extremely important and other patients who are experts by experience are well suited to provide valuable insights to both patients and doctors.

Fredonia is a patient adviser, also known as a Cardi-Yack, in the CONNECT-HF study. Fredonia has had opportunities to interact with heart patients, cardiologists, and researchers. She believes that patient input can help researchers tweak a research question with the ultimate goal of better health for all. We invite you to watch this video to hear from Fredonia on how patients can support other patients, doctors, and researchers.