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Registry-based trials: a potential model for cost savings?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2020

Brett R. Anderson*
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
Evelyn G. Gotlieb
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Kevin Hill
Department of Pediatrics, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
Kimberly E. McHugh
Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA
Mark A. Scheurer
Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA
Carlos M. Mery
Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, Dell Children’s Medical Center, University of Texas Dell Medical School, Austin, TX, USA
Glenn J. Pelletier
Division of Cardiac Surgery, Nemours Cardiac Center, Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE, USA
Jonathan R. Kaltman
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Owen J. White
CardioAccess, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Felicia L. Trachtenberg
New England Research Institutes, Watertown, MA, USA
Danielle Hollenbeck-Pringle
New England Research Institutes, Watertown, MA, USA
Brian W. McCrindle
Department of Cardiology at SickKids, Labatt Family Heart Centre, University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
Donna M. Sylvester
Department of Cardiology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Aaron W. Eckhauser
Section of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Sara K. Pasquali
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Jeffery B. Anderson
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA
Marcus S. Schamberger
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Riley Children’s Hospital, Indianapolis, IN, USA
Subhadra Shashidharan
Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA
Jeffrey P. Jacobs
Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute, St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Marshall L. Jacobs
Division of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Marko Boskovski
Division of Cardiac Surgery, Harvard Medical School, The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Jane W. Newburger
Department of Cardiology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Meena Nathan
Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Department of Cardiac Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Author for correspondence: B. Anderson, MD, MBA, MS, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, 3959 Broadway, CH-2 North, New York, NY10032-3784, USA. Tel: +1 (212) 305 8509; Fax: +1 (212) 305 4429. E-mail:



Registry-based trials have emerged as a potentially cost-saving study methodology. Early estimates of cost savings, however, conflated the benefits associated with registry utilisation and those associated with other aspects of pragmatic trial designs, which might not all be as broadly applicable. In this study, we sought to build a practical tool that investigators could use across disciplines to estimate the ranges of potential cost differences associated with implementing registry-based trials versus standard clinical trials.


We built simulation Markov models to compare unique costs associated with data acquisition, cleaning, and linkage under a registry-based trial design versus a standard clinical trial. We conducted one-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, varying study characteristics over broad ranges, to determine thresholds at which investigators might optimally select each trial design.


Registry-based trials were more cost effective than standard clinical trials 98.6% of the time. Data-related cost savings ranged from $4300 to $600,000 with variation in study characteristics. Cost differences were most reactive to the number of patients in a study, the number of data elements per patient available in a registry, and the speed with which research coordinators could manually abstract data. Registry incorporation resulted in cost savings when as few as 3768 independent data elements were available and when manual data abstraction took as little as 3.4 seconds per data field.


Registries offer important resources for investigators. When available, their broad incorporation may help the scientific community reduce the costs of clinical investigation. We offer here a practical tool for investigators to assess potential costs savings.

Original Article
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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A complete list of non-author contributors appears in Appendix 1.


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