Smartphone app seeks to ease clinical trial enrollment

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

The purpose of the app Elkin developed is to try to overcome some of the bottlenecks in clinical trial recruitment that prevent medical advances from reaching the patients who need them. (Image: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo)
The purpose of the app Elkin developed is to try to overcome some of the bottlenecks in clinical trial recruitment that prevent medical advances from reaching the patients who need them. (Image: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo)

Related tags: Clinical trial

A new smartphone app hopes to make participating in clinical trials easier for prospective participants.

By engaging participants directly we will not be affected by needing to take time away from an already busy clinical practice to initiate enrollment,​” Peter Elkin, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

The app, which Elkin developed through funds by the university’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), allows patients to evaluate clinical trials, the time commitment involved, and locations of nearby studies.

Cell phones are becoming ubiquitous and the convenience will decrease the work needed for participants to initiate the enrollment process​,” said Elkin.

The smartphone app is based on PartSci – a participant driven science system that is integrated with the university’s local clinical trial management system.

The system accesses information on registered clinical trials in the area before sending it to a database. The data about the trials is then expressed using natural language processing technology, which was developed by Elkin and his colleagues.

Patients are then able 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, who told us he hopes to have the app out later this summer. “Next steps include Usability testing and IRB approval to study the results of this intervention​,” he added.

The researchers are already developing a second app, which will allow clinicians to more easily recruit patients into trials by allowing them to search for local trials that meet their patients' needs. 

Related topics: Clinical Development, Data management

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