We made it quicker and easier to begin a research project by enhancing our training and advisory services and by clarifying the relevant instructions.

In 2020, we continued the efforts we began in the previous year to simplify the start of a research project. Our research management invested in actively advising, coaching and training researchers and research secretaries in the departments in 2020. For this purpose, we hired a new Senior Medical Officer in Charge of Research, Senior Planning Officer and Planning Specialist.

In August, we opened up an e-mail address for research advisory services, intended for everyone involved in research. In less than six months, we received more than 1,100 questions, some of them very broad in scope. We have compiled an FAQ on our website and are constantly updating it.

The research management introduced regular Q&A sessions for the secretaries of research and teaching coordinators to simplify the research permit process.

We also revised the research and training Intranet pages and updated our researcher guidelines and permit application forms to make them simpler to use.

Number of participants increased with remote training

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the research management converted its training sessions into remote sessions. Recordings of these are available on our website. Participating in these training sessions was easier than with traditional classroom teaching.

In 2020, we held 32 training sessions with more than 2,200 participants altogether. This does not include those who viewed the recordings after the fact.

Ethics Committees adapted quickly to pandemic

Our Ethics Committees were quick to react to the coronavirus pandemic; the first remote Ethics Committee meeting was held in March. Due to the pandemic, the Ethics Committees were called upon to review research projects focusing on the coronavirus, some of them quite broad and complex, bringing up new matters such as delayed approval, remote approval and the information security of remote platforms.

In order to be able to respond to the needs of researchers and research projects in the rapidly changing pandemic environment, we created a fast track for coronavirus-related studies to have them processed more promptly. Previously, study applications had to be submitted two weeks before an Ethics Committee meeting, but we cut this down to five days.

During 2020, HUS Ethics Committees dealt with nearly 100 research projects having to do with the coronavirus. The Ethics Committees issued a total of 1,502 statements.

Streamlining research permits to continue in 2021

In 2020, we issued 819 research permits. The year was characterized by a large number of amendment applications; there were 764 individual studies. The research permit process, from filing the application to being granted the permit, took 28 days on average, but there was significant variation between departments.

Our target for 2021 is to streamline the research permit process so that it would take no more than 14 days. In this, we are aided by the alert and reporting functions added to the new version of the application system for research permits and ethical statements, Tutkijan työpöytä [Researcher’s toolkit]. These allow us to react promptly in case of delays.

Research panels introduced

HUS Emergency Medicine and Services, Children and Adolescents and HUS Diagnostic Center were the first of our units to introduce research panels. Training for the research panels is provided by HUS, the University of Helsinki, the ICAN cancer research project jointly managed by HUS and the University of Helsinki, and the European Patients’ Academy (EUPATI Finland). The research panels are part of our customer inclusion activities.

Research by profit area pcs
HUS Diagnostic Center 92
Emergency Medicine and Services 32
Children and Adolescents 92
Perioperative, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine 28
Gynecology and Obstetrics 40
Neurocenter 57
Psychiatry 22
Head and Neck Center 91
Internal Medicine and Rehabilitation 12
Heart and Lung Center 68
Comprehensive Cancer Center 59
Musculoskeletal and Plastic Surgery 70
Inflammation Center 35
Abdominal Center 100
Hyvinkää Hospital Area 10
Lohja Hospital Area 1
Porvoo Hospital Area 1
HUS Joint Resources 22
HUS Pharmacy 2
HUS IT Management 1
Helsinki University Hospital Area management 3
Non-HUS (external data permit) 3