Digital clinical trials project for cancer gets underway

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is leading a project to expand enrollment onto clinical trials for cancer treatment

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has partnered with CodeX (Common Oncology Data Elements eXtensions), on a project that will use digital technology to increase patient enrollment onto cancer clinical trials. 

The project will integrate cancer clinical trial matching into existing electronic health records (EHRs) and patient data management (PDM) systems, using open data standards and application programming interfaces (APIs).

The aim of the Integrated Trial Matching Project is to make it easier for patients to enroll at smaller and more diverse medical centres. Research has shown there are systemic barriers to clinical trial participation, with a lack of diversity being a significant issue. 

“In order to be successful, cancer clinical trials must have a diverse pool of participants" explains Mark Fleury, policy principal for ACS CAN.  "Yet a lot of patients who would be eligible to enroll and are interested are never given the chance simply because they’re being treated at smaller, community-based oncology clinics that may not have a research infrastructure. If we make it quick and easy for these providers to locate potential trials for their patients—without creating additional steps or systems—we could increase and expand trial enrollment to many more people.”

Another barrier is the amount of manual data entry required to match patients to trials. The project will provide basic trial screening using existing tools within EHR and PDM systems. A set of standardised patient data points are sent to external clinical trial matching services, and these then return the matched results. 

There are multiple phases to the programme - the first is use case development and data exchange protocol, which have been completed. Small scale pilots are currently underway, and the results of these will inform a large-scale study planned for this summer that will measure the tool’s effectiveness, as well as its usability for both providers and patients.


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