As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt workplaces all over the world, Australians have turned to health and medical researchers to help them navigate the impacts of the virus.

Social distancing guidelines meant that researchers were prevented from meeting with and taking samples of patients in clinical trials. The March lock down had practical limitations, especially for health and medical researchers who could not conduct laboratory experiments from home and brought research to a halt.

Many researchers have teaching duties while others split their time between research and clinical work. The time needed to prepare for remote teaching as campuses closed and the additional demands of clinical work added additional pressure and drew researchers away from their research. Interruptions to supplies, equipment and materials as transport and supply chains were broken was also a factor.

Research Australia’s researchers echoed these concerns in an online survey, with 90% of the health and medical researchers surveyed indicate that while Australia’s response has been timely and effective, the impact on their livelihoods and Australia’s future research capacity is significant.

To solve much of the current and post-COVID related issues, an agile research response will need to be implemented which will require timely collaboration across multiple institutions, organisations and industry sectors, flexible and time efficient allocation of research funding and research staff, and rapid decision making.

Technological changes and advances will define the effectiveness of research efforts in coming months, facilitating collaboration across different disciplines and institutions, increasing opportunities to share data and learnings, and supporting researchers with tools that facilitate the research process and enable greater research impact.

One such organisation making these technological enhancements is South Australia Health.

South Australia Health (SA Health) recently announced in December 2020 that they went live with  OmniStar Ethics as their new SA Health Research Ethics and Governance Management System (Research GEMS), enabling consistent management and reporting for research ethics and governance activities.

OmniStar Ethics from F1 Solutions replaces Online Forms and paper applications, allowing researchers to complete their HREA and SSA forms, monitor approval progress and submit post approval monitoring directly to their local Research Office.

The transition to Research GEMS will enable a more consistent and streamlined process for research applicants who wish to conduct research within SA Health.

The benefits include:

Streamlining of processes

  • Research Offices will transition to common application and post approval monitoring forms
  • Researchers will have greater clarity on application requirements, approval/authorisation process and post approval monitoring requirements
  • Reduction in duplication of effort for Researchers

Streamlined approval

  • Local site approval/endorsement, ethics approval and governance authorisation will be managed within Research GEMS
  • SA Health HREC ethics application decisions will be shared with SA Health sites
  • Amendments and annual reports approved by a SA Health HREC will be automatically shared with SA Health sites


Researchers will have greater visibility over their research projects, and will be able to:

  • Track the progress of their application
  • Access all of their applications and approved/authorised research studies in one location
  • View post approval monitoring requirements within Research GEMS and receive automated reminders

Greater oversight

  • Improved visibility and greater reporting on research being conducted, enabling strategies to be put into place to attract more research projects to South Australia
  • Improved oversight of projects being conducted at SA Health sites
  • Monitoring of application processing times and metrics, to enable further process improvement

What does that mean for researchers?

Research GEMS will provide researchers, committee members and approvers with up-to-date information regarding the current status of all applications in real-time. Streamlined online application and electronic approval processes means more time for researchers to do what they do best while providing substantial staff resource capacity savings and a better user experience for every stakeholder.

OmniStar Ethics – Supporting world class research.

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