Novartis goes digital with FocalView for ophthalmology clinical trials

By Brittany Farb Gruber

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/demaerre)
(Image: Getty/demaerre)
Novartis has launched FocalView, a new app that aims to allow researchers to track ophthalmic disease progression by collecting real-time data from patients.

Developed using the Apple Research Kit platform, FocalView reduces the barriers of patient participation by giving them flexibility with the ability to self-report data through the app’s assessments. These measurements include visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, and will also provide feedback on their visual function as well as changes over time.

"Because patients with eye diseases are often not as mobile, FocalView has the potential to offer tremendous benefit for the ophthalmic community and for researchers looking to develop better treatments for these patients,"​ said Dr. Mark Bullimore, medical advisor for FocalView and dean of the College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University, in a statement.

"Collating validated patient-reported outcomes in clinical trial research is no longer a nice-to-have,” ​he added. “This kind of data is fast becoming a critical element of research and development, because it offers a better reflection of real-world patient experiences, fosters better patient compliance and provides researchers with richer and more accurate data points."

Virtual clinical trials

Novartis is not new to virtual trial technology. In March, it expanded its strategic alliance​ with Science 37 with its commitment to conducting up to 10 new clinical trials over the next three years to scale the “site-less” model.

Novartis is an early investor in Science 37 and contributed to the company’s initial investment round in 2015​.

Future plans

Researchers will assess ease of use, level of enrollment and the ability to obtain important documentation, including informed consent, for future clinical trial research. In the next phase of the app, FocalView will be assessed against traditional visual testing taking place in clinical settings.

"Optimizing digital technology in research and development, particularly in ophthalmic disease, could have a marked impact on the quality of the data we capture," ​said Bertrand Bodson, chief digital officer at Novartis, in a statement.

"We believe apps like FocalView, which we've made freely available to the research community on an open-source platform, can help accelerate the development of treatments and bring them to the patients who need them most."

FocalView is now available for download in the Apple Store in the US, with Novartis planning to launch in additional markets in the future. Users must consent to contribute to research data before interacting with the tool.

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