Recruitment During a Pandemic
TimeThursday, April 152:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
LocationMedical and Drug Delivery Devices
DescriptionThe COVID-19 pandemic resulted in extensive lockdowns and restrictions in 2020 that profoundly impacted the American workplace. Essentially, the whole world shutdown, but healthcare did not. Medical devices still needed to be evaluated before going to the FDA and/or other regulatory agencies and administrations. Participants were still needed to provide essential usability feedback, but the big question was “How?” Like every other industry, healthcare human factors had to pivot to move forward.
This presentation will focus on the unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic created for recruitment of human factor studies and how Design Science navigated the uncharted territory successfully. This presentation will review the steps Design Science took during this time to adapt how we recruited participants and ran studies, in a manner that is safe and reassuring to our participants. Design Science followed a five-stage model: respond to issues of immediacy, assessment, plan, implement, and finally, review and adjust . We will review how we restarted in-person usability studies with only healthcare providers initially because many were already more comfortable being out of the home and wearing personal protective equipment. We will review what measures we took in the early days to return to in-person usability testing on April 15th, 2020. We will discuss the progression from conducting only healthcare provider studies, to studies with participants who are healthy adults, then later to studies including patient populations and caregivers of patient populations. The talk will include a summary of the precautions put in place at every step of the recruiting process – screening, scheduling, reception, and post-participation follow-up as well as the reactions from our participants. Lastly, we will talk about where we are today and implications for the future.
This pandemic had been truly uncharted territory, requiring careful navigation safety and ethics to continue to carry out the important mission of human factors evaluation of medical products. This experience has highlighted the need for flexibility. We needed to be sure that we made our environments as safe as possible and that our respondents were comfortable coming to in-person studies. Unfortunately, this pandemic is not over. Vaccines are rolling out, but we may not be back to “normal” for a while. When we are back to a sense of normalcy, it will be imperative to keep the lessons learned and some of the measures put in place.