A Practical Guide for Building Collaborations Between Clinical Researchers and Engineers: Lessons Learned From a Multidisciplinary Patient Safety Project

J Patient Saf. 2021 Dec 1;17(8):e1420-e1427. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000667.


Objectives: Engineering and operations research have much to contribute to improve patient safety, especially within complex, highly regulated, and constantly evolving hospital environments. Despite new technologies, clinical checklists, and alarm systems, basic challenges persist that impact patient safety, such as how to improve communication between healthcare providers to prevent hospital-acquired complications. Because these collaborations are often new territory for both clinical researchers and engineers, the aim of the study was to prepare research teams that are embarking on similar collaborations regarding common challenges and training needs to anticipate while developing multidisciplinary teams.

Methods: Using a specific patient safety project as a case study, we share lessons learned and research training tools developed in our experience from recent multidisciplinary collaborations between clinical and engineering teams, which included many nonclinical undergraduate and graduate students.

Results: We developed a practical guide to describe anticipated challenges and solutions to consider for developing successful partnerships between engineering and clinical researchers. To address the extensive clinical, regulatory, data collection, and laboratory education needed for orienting multidisciplinary team members to join research projects, we also developed and shared a checklist for project managers as well as the training materials as adaptable resources to facilitate other teams' initiation into these types of collaborations. These resources are appropriate and tailorable for orienting both clinical and nonclinical team members, including faculty and staff as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

Conclusions: We shared a practical guide to prepare teams for new multidisciplinary collaborations between clinicians and engineers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Patient Safety*
  • Students