Here’s How Roche Has Created a Smartphone App for Clinical Trial Matching and Enrolment
Smartphone’s have changed the world, of that there’s little doubt. These ubiquitous devices have transformed the way we access services and communicate with one another.
Any business worth its salt these days has a mobile compatible website or app, and even those which you wouldn’t expect to need a smartphone presence are finding new ways to connect with an audience via the technology.
Clinical trials are of paramount importance to the medical industry. They provide the gateway through which research is transformed into real world treatments with the power to cure illness and save lives.
However, one of the biggest challenges facing the business of clinical trials is finding and recruiting suitable candidates to take part in them. This is especially true in the field of oncology, where the enormous variety of cancers and tumours makes it a real struggle to match patients to appropriate trials. Patient screening, answering concerns, raising awareness of trials through advertising, and a host of other factors all conspire to create a bottleneck which grinds recruitment to a halt.
“Clinical trials serve as the mechanism that translates research into standards of care,” said Roche’s Global Head of Diagnostic Information Solutions, Tim Jaeger. “However, even though the number of trials has increased exponentially in the past few decades, fewer than 4% of cancer patients worldwide enrol in clinical trials. Higher enrolment in clinical trials has been shown to produce advances in treatment of cancer populations at a faster rate. Furthermore, patients who participate in research are more likely to report positive patient experiences.”
With its new smartphone app being designed to match patients to trials based on numerous factors – including age, gender, biomarkers and tumour type – Roche is looking to break the deadlock and bring cancer treatments through the approval process faster and more effectively than ever before.
Clinical Trial Match
The new app is one of two in what Roche is calling its “Decision Support Portfolio.” Dubbed “Clinical Trial Match,” the app is designed to be used by clinicians when setting up a new trial.
When a tumour board meets or is preparing for a meeting, they can initiate a search based on individual patient data. The app is not beholden to any one sponsor and is fully integrated with the Navify Tumour Board (the second app in the portfolio). The powerful search engine can return a list of relevant and current clinical trials within seconds from a range of sources, including ClinicalTrials.gov and the European Medicine Agency, as well as other international trial registries and private institutions. Results can then be filtered by location to prioritise those within a reasonable distance for the patient.
“It’s important they get unbiased results,” said Jaeger. “Therefore, the app provides sponsor-agnostic search results. Second, often there may be no suitable trials for a patient within the institution or close vicinity. To provide global coverage, it queries eleven worldwide registries for clinical trials. Third, to optimise the matching given the complexity of trial inclusion and exclusion criteria, we use parameters such as age, gender, biomarkers, tumour type, location and stage. Finally, to address the increasing number of umbrella and basket trials, the app can search trial databases based on genomic alterations, where applicable.”
The Decision Support Portfolio is a cloud-based solution which presently contains two apps, including Clinical Trial Match. Roche states that it plans to expand this offering in the future, with workflow products and other apps designed to support clinical decisions in other fields beyond oncology.
The quest to find a cure for the various forms of cancer which plague humanity is one of the toughest and most important in the entire field of medicine. Clinical trials are undoubtedly a key component of this mission, and any innovation which makes recruitment easier is to be welcomed with open arms.
“Matching the right patient with the right trial is becoming more and more complex,” said Jaeger. “Patients trust their healthcare providers to get the most up-to-date information on available therapy options, including clinical trials. Digital solutions like Clinical Trial Match are designed to improve transparency to all possible treatment options to personalise treatment to the patient. Having said that, this is a multi-faceted topic. There will always be trials that have difficulty recruiting patients for other reasons.”