App will match volunteers to clinical trials

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It takes on average 17 years for clinical breakthroughs in the laboratory to reach patients. A big part of the delay is finding enough patients to take part in clinical trials. Only 5 to 10 percent of eligible adults enroll—and of those who show initial interest, only 5 percent are in it until the end.

A new smartphone app may be a way to boost recruitment.

“A key goal of the research was to improve patient access to medical innovations available through clinical trials,” says Peter Elkin, professor and chair of the biomedical informatics department and professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo.  “We’ve developed a cellphone app that allows patients to quickly and easily evaluate clinical trials, the time commitment involved, and the location of the study nearest their home.”

A second app under development will allow clinicians to more easily recruit patients into their trials by allowing them to search for local trials that meet their patients’ needs.

Industry money is backing more clinical trials

The smartphone app is based on a participant driven science system, PartSci, which is integrated with the University at Buffalo’s local clinical trial management system. PartSci will access information on registered clinical trials in the region and send them to a database, with data about the trials expressed using natural language processing technology.

Patients can search for studies by typing in the name of their disorder or the kind of clinical trial they’re interested in. “When patients find a study that interests them, they just push a button and their contact information is sent to the study coordinator who can contact them to begin recruitment,” said Elkin.

“This app has the potential to significantly speed enrollment in clinical trials and the translation of basic research into new therapies to benefit our patients,” Elkin says. “By allowing patients to essentially self-recruit, this app empowers individuals to more actively participate in improving their health and the health of their communities.”

Elkin will describe the new app June 2 at the 2016 Informational Technology in Academic Medicine conference in Toronto.

Source: University at Buffalo