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4/25/2012
04:12 PM
Paul Cerrato
Paul Cerrato
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3 IT Tools Helping Patients Find Clinical Trials

We hear so much about the transformative power of medical informatics, and no doubt some of it is more hype than reality. These three examples are the real deal.



Is A Personal Health Record In Your Future?
Is A Personal Health Record In Your Future?
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I've come across three promising online tools that offer hope to patients who aren't seeing results from their current courses of treatment.

At Penn Medicine, when patients can't be helped with traditional therapy, physicians can use a feature of the Epic Care EMR called Research Trial Advisory to locate new options.

When Penn researchers identify the candidate criteria for various clinical research trials--which include diagnosis, gender, age, lab results, and medication--they embed an alert in the ambulatory EMR of patients that match the criteria. Doctors of those patients then get a message on their EMR screens encouraging them to discuss the trial with the candidate. Penn Medicine, which consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, now has eight studies using this trial advisory tool.

[ To find out which medical apps doctors and patients are turning to, see 9 Mobile Health Apps Worth A Closer Look. ]

At Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, the recently launched Health and Research Informatics platform, based on Oracle data warehouse and analytics software, is part of Moffitt's Total Cancer Care program, a longitudinal study that involves 17 community hospitals in 10 states. The program collects and analyzes patient clinical, genomic, and molecular tumor data to determine therapies based on cancer types and stages, previous treatments, age, medical history, genetic markers, and other characteristics.

The platform helps clinicians quickly identify patients suitable for clinical trials and research projects. In the past, finding patients who fit the criteria "could take weeks or months," said Mark Hulse, Moffitt's CIO.

A third resource, the Clinical Options Research Engine (Corengi), is a Web service that helps Type 2 diabetics locate clinical trials. Unlike the Penn and Moffitt programs, this one also reaches out directly to the public.

Corengi's search engine asks patients for a few simple details, including their age, ZIP code, and latest hemoglobin A1c reading, which is a measure of blood sugar levels over the last three months. Once patients input this information, they click on a "Find matching trial" button for a list of the most relevant studies recruiting patients in their vicinity.

Corengi also is placing widgets on other sites that diabetics are likely to visit, to attract more trial candidates. "There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about clinical trials...," said Corengi co-founder Ryan Luce in an interview posted on imedicalapps.com. "Most people you approach about clinical trials say, 'No, no, that's not for me,' but then when you talk to people who have actually participated in a clinical trial they say, 'It's great.'"

We hear so much about the transformative power of medical informatics, and no doubt some of it is more hype than reality. But Penn's Research Trial Advisory, Moffitt's Health and Research Informatics platform, and Corengi are the real deal.

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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