CSORN Insights – Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta

Written by: Eden Richardson and Tara Whittaker

This is the second edition of CSORN Insights highlighting sites who participate in CSORN who excel in recruitment, data quality and follow-up. This edition is highlighting Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. They are the largest contributors to CSORN in Canada. They currently have over 3,366 participants enrolled in CSORN. Their local Principal Investigator is Dr. Alex Soroceanu and overall they have 12 surgeons who consecutively enroll patients into CSORN. Some surgeons enroll all eligible surgical patients and others for specific diagnoses only.

While the surgeries take place at Foothills Medical Centre, their participating surgeons evaluate patients at different clinics in the city.  Last year, 72% of their CSORN patients were enrolled from Caleo Health, a multi-disciplinary clinic in the Northwest. While 28% of their CSORN patients were enrolled from clinics at Foothills Medical Centre, or University of Calgary.

The identification of patients and the collection of forms is a collaborative effort between the surgeons, the research coordinators, the fellows and the administrative staff.  The research coordinators at this site track form collection and prompt patients and the surgeons or their administrative staff as windows open. They have found online entry to be a very effective method of collecting patient data with approximately 50%-60% of their patients completing forms this way.  The remaining forms are distributed through the mail, or completed in clinic if the patient is seen during the study window.

When the forms (hard copies and online) are received from the patients, surgeons or fellows, the research coordinators scan the forms looking for anomalies like blanks or potential errors in recording.  Follow-up phone calls or mailouts to patients are sometimes required to ensure forms are complete.  Over the last 2 years, their collection rates have been excellent for 6-18 week, 12 month and 24 month follow-up. They attribute this to a few different factors.  When patients are enrolled, patients are offered the option of online entry to make participation as convenient as possible.  They reach out to the patients as soon as the windows open and they also make three attempts to collect each follow-up.  In 2019, their early enrolments reached the 5 year mark.  They have begun collecting their first follow-ups for this group of patients and they are closely evaluating their collection rates.

The main members of the Foothills Medical Centre team are Dr. Alex Soroceanu, who is the PI for this site, and 3 Research Coordinators. Tara Whittaker is the team lead and manages patient enrollment and follow-ups at the Caleo Health offsite clinic. She oversees ethics submissions, quality control, and the Degenerative Spondylolisthesis SCAMPS sub-study in Calgary. She also does the data entry for Initial Clinical Assessments, Initial Patient Assessments, patient follow-ups and adverse events for Caleo Health patients. Saswati Tripathy manages patient enrollment and follow-ups at Foothills Medical Centre. She is the lead coordinator on the Management and Outcome of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy sub-study in Calgary. She also does the data entry for Foothills Medical Centre such as Initial Clinical Assessment, Initial Patient Assessments, patient follow-ups, and adverse events. Ariana Frederick monitors the OR schedule and attends weekly spine rounds to identify upcoming cases, identify adverse events and flag multiple surgery scenarios. She is the lead on collection and data entry of the Spine Procedure Forms and Discharge Forms. She manages patient enrollment and follow-ups for the adult deformity population and completes ethics submissions as well.

Aside from Dr. Soroceanu and the research staff, the other contributing surgeons to CSORN for this site are:

Dr. Jacques Bouchard
Dr. David Cadotte
Dr. Steve Casha
Dr. Roger Cho
Dr. Stephan du Plessis
Dr. Brad Jacobs
Dr. Peter Lewkonia
Dr. Fred Nicholls
Dr. Paul Salo
Dr. Ganesh Swamy
Dr. Ken Thomas