Research Approval Processes Project’s (RAPP) Early Insights from Process Mapping

12 March 2024

Implementing meaningful and effective changes to the research approvals processes across British Columbia’s health authorities starts with a thorough and verified understanding of the current state of those processes. Understanding and comparing these complicated and divergent workflows is no small feat. To tackle this complexity, the Research Approval Processes Project (RAPP) team has been employing process mapping as a foundational strategy.

Process mapping serves as a potent tool for visualizing, analyzing, and refining workflows. By deconstructing intricate processes into digestible steps, it facilitates the identification of potential improvements. Drawing on the insights of local health authority subject matter experts, the RAPP team has mapped and validated several of the current state processes which make up research approvals.

Despite being in the early stages of analysis, the RAPP team’s preliminary findings have unveiled notable differences between organizations. While there is clear evidence of prior coordination and collaboration between some health authorities, differences are significant across organizations. For instance, the criteria for initiating a Privacy Impact Assessment vary with some health authorities requiring it for high-risk data or new technologies, and others under more specific circumstances like complex privacy issues or material changes in technology. Differences in organizational infrastructure, internal/external communication pathways, and information access are also evident in the process maps. Variations such as these likely stem from historical pressures and priorities that shaped the development of the processes.

To devise solutions, the RAPP team will perform exploration, refinement, and validation across multiple levels of each organization to ensure the changes to the processes enhance effectiveness, safety, and the quality of work. Through these efforts, RAPP seeks to create a more cohesive and efficient research approval framework that can better serve British Columbia’s health care system and health research ecosystem.

Learn more about the Research Approvals Processes Project here.