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  • Writer's pictureGuest Blogger

Finding time for research in clinical practice

Authors: Jessica Boh and Cameron Begley

Most clinicians want to do research, aware of the benefits for both their own professional development and the advancement of orthopaedics more generally. The main barriers to making this a reality are time and expense. A clinical research organisation (CRO) can offer a cost effective and time saving way to produce high quality research without the stresses of building and managing an in-house team.

Orthopaedic surgeons hold a unique and advantageous position to conduct research in healthcare, often active in scientific and clinical practices within a rapidly evolving field. This means that they are able to innovate in their treatment and practices to provide better patient care, while raising research questions based on first hand experience (Alves, 2018).

Surgeons are constantly generating reams of data through the cycle of patient consults, diagnostic investigations and shared decision-making with the patient regarding surgeries and treatments. Although the volume of data is substantial, a key problem for the research-interested clinician is that they are too busy to be able to extract insights. In the past, the only options have been to work on projects out of clinic hours, hire staff to conduct research, or forgo research altogether.

A CRO can offer a tailored and cost effective alternative. Engaging a consultancy introduces a level of experience and efficiency to your research activity that is difficult to replicate when hiring on a tight budget. However, there are few CROs with a deep understanding of musculoskeletal conditions and orthopaedic surgery combined with research experience. This understanding means that they can assist you or your trainees and fellows from asking clearly defined questions (see Kamper, 2018) through to publishing individual papers.

Engaging an appropriate CRO can provide the required time and energy to transform your questions into high quality research output, without the costs associated with building and managing a team within the practice.

Whether the financial cost is higher or lower than hiring even one employee directly depends on your cost of employment. If you do the math, you will realise that a Research Assistant on the average Australian take-home salary of $AU75,000 per year (Hays Salary Guide, 2018) could actually cost over $100,000 per year, once you include superannuation, leave entitlements, insurance, workers compensation, payroll tax, and work space.

Less obvious are the time and energy costs on an already busy surgeon. Providing only a minimum amount of direction and management to an employee takes between 5 to 10 hours per week. That equates to one day, that could otherwise be used to treat patients.

In contrast, a CRO has the potential to create time and efficiency so that research projects are seen through to completion. Orthopaedic trainees are more likely to abandon research projects if they have fewer opportunities or insufficient time to complete a research project (Carter, Liew, Brown, & Moaveni, 2018). An experienced consultancy team can offer support to these efforts by implementing efficient methods to complete research and offering continuity to the supervising clinician, helping to overcome these barriers through prior planning.

At the same time, a CRO team can provide expert research guidance and assistance. This ensures that the surgeon and trainee are supported to produce high quality research papers that are relevant to the practice, while effectively reducing the management time required. Clinicians will also likely see a higher research output in a shorter time frame.

Orthopaedic surgeons have the insight and experience to ask meaningful research questions. Engaging an appropriate CRO can provide the required time and energy to transform your questions into high quality research output, without the costs associated with building and managing a team within the practice.

Talk to us today and discover how we can bridge the gap between you and research excellence.


  1. Alves, C. (2018). Research methodology: how to maximize your research potential. EFORT Open Reviews, 3(5), 184–191.

  2. Carter, S., Liew, S., Brown, G., & Moaveni, A. K. (2018). Barriers to Completion of Research Projects Among Orthopaedic Trainees. Journal of Surgical Education.

  3. Kamper, S. J. (2018). Asking a Question: Linking Evidence With Practice. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 48(7), 596–597.


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