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New project to improve efficiency of healthcare integrated biobanking and strengthen Swedish research

Biobank Sweden has secured project funding through Swelife to ensure a continued development of the successful model ‘healthcare integrated biobanking’. The project which will go on until 2026, aims to increase the efficiency of the national model and thereby strengthening medical research while also contributing to equal care and health benefits in Sweden.

Healthcare integrated biobanking known in Sweden as ‘SIB’ for short, is a national model for collecting, handling, and storing samples for research through the original sampling routines of public healthcare. The model which was established nationally in Sweden in an earlier project funded by Swelife, was implemented at several hospitals in Sweden during 2015 with support from the Swedish regions and Biobank Sweden.

The benefit of healthcare integrated biobanking is among other things, a faster process for researchers looking to collect samples but also time-savings for medical staff handling samples for research studies. Another upside of the national model is the improved and more comparable sample quality, which is achieved through a more standardized way of working with research samples. The unique Swedish model is an important piece of the puzzle to enable the research of tomorrow, which often requires a large number of comparable samples from the biobanks.

In October, a new project funding of about 10 million Swedish SEK was approved by Swedish innovation program Swelife, which means new opportunities to make the national model of healthcare integrated biobanking even more efficient – for the good of clinical research.

Healthcare integrated biobanking 2.0

Even though the model of healthcare integrated biobanking is already in use by several national research projects, such as SCAPIS and COPE, the new Swelife project is yet another chance to further improve and develop healthcare integrated biobanking as a concept. Among other things, the goal of the project is to make some adjustments of the national model regarding collection and withdrawals of blood and fluid samples for research.

– It feels extremely inspiring to be able to improve the model of healthcare integrated biobanking. We have listened to the researchers and also identified some areas of improvement which together makes the basis for this project, says Pernilla Karlefors, Biobank Sweden’s coordinator for operative services.

The overall purpose of the project can be summarized as to increase harmonization, quality, and efficiency of the operational services within the national infrastructure Biobank Sweden, to make the process both easier and faster for researchers looking for access to samples and thereby utilizing the full potential of ’SIB’.

–  Healthcare integrated biobanking is a Swedish success story that opens up new possibilities to collect samples within the ordinary routines of public healthcare. We hope that this project will contribute to even better conditions for researchers looking to collect samples for new research, says Sonja Eaker Fält, Chairperson of Biobank Sweden’s National Advisory Board.

Focusing on patient participation

Another important goal of the new project regarding healthcare integrated biobanking, is to increase patient participation and the influence of patients within research involving biobank samples. There is also an objective to further improve the possibilities for healthcare to include the patients that wish to participate in research studies. As a scalable concept, healthcare integrated biobanking as a model increases the opportunities for patients to participate in research on their own terms, no matter where they live, however, there is always room for improvements.

Another part of this project is to also increase knowledge among patients regarding biobanking. To achieve this, a digital education is planned and will be created in close collaboration with project partner Funktionsrätt Sverige/Eupati Sverige and patient representatives.

–  The planned education effort is an important initiative where patient involvement is utilized to improve both care flow and research. We know that educated patients can contribute with their unique competence and experience, both in research and in the development of studies, says Cristin Lind, project manager EUPATI Sverige.

The new project regarding healthcare integrated biobanking will go on for three years and is set to start in October.  

See also:

Video – Sjukvårdsintegrerad biobankning (subtitles in English)