Electronic Consent at US Cancer Centers: A Survey of Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities

Electronic Consent at US Cancer Centers: A Survey of Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities
Applied Research
Susan Chimonas, Allison Lipitz-Snyderman, Kemi Gaffney, Gilad J. Kuperman
JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, 3 January 2023
Digital technologies create opportunities for improving consenting processes in cancer care and research. Yet, little is known about the prevalence of electronic consenting, or e-consent, at US cancer care institutions.
We surveyed institutions in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network about their capabilities for clinical, research, and administrative e-consents; technologies used; telemedicine consents; multilingual support; evaluations; and opportunities and challenges in moving from paper-based to electronic processes. Responses were summarized across responding institutions.
Twenty-five institutions completed the survey (81% response rate). Respondents were from all census regions and included freestanding and matrix cancer centers. Twenty (80%) had e-consent capabilities, with variability in the extent of adoption: One (5%) had implemented e-consent for all clinical, research, and administrative needs while 19 (95%) had a mix of paper and electronic consenting. Among those with e-consent capabilities, the majority (14 of 20, 70%) were using features embedded in their electronic health record. Most had a combination of paper and e-consenting for clinical purposes (18, 72%). About two-thirds relied entirely on paper for research consents (16, 64%) but had at least some electronic processes for administrative consents (15, 60%). Obstacles to e-consenting included challenges with procuring or maintaining hardware, content management, workflow integration, and digital literacy of patients. Successes included positive user experiences, workflow improvements, and better record-keeping. Only two of 20 (10%) respondents with e-consent capabilities had evaluated the impact of automating consent processes.
E-consent was prevalent in our sample, with 80% of institutions reporting at least some capabilities. Further progress is needed for the benefits of e-consenting to be realized broadly.

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