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Open innovation seeks to improve access to clinical trials

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Using the crowd to make clinical trials more effective has been a constant focus of the healthcare industry over the past few years.

Back in 2013 I wrote about the launch of thePlatform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly, which aimed to improve the trial process by making data sharing much easier.

A study from LillyCoi in 2014 found that just 16% of cancer patients were aware of clinical trials that may have benefited them, so it’s great to see a number of projects emerging that aim to raise awareness of clinical trials.  I review a few of the best ones here.The Clinical Trial Innovation Prize is aiming to improve things still further by attempting to double the accrual rate of clinical trials in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.The challenge is funded jointly by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Free to Breathe.

The backers believe that the lack of participation in clinical trials is significantly hampering the success of the trials.

“Each trial is designed with a targeted accrual in mind, i.e. the total number of patients it needs to enroll for the clinical trial results to be statistically significant and accurate. Because of several unfortunate factors, some as simple as a lack of awareness among patients and physicians, a vast majority of clinical trials are unable to accrue patients, and are halted prematurely,” they say.

The Challenge therefore is offering $30,000 to anyone that can double the sign up rate for clinical trials, whether that’s by improving awareness, reducing the stigma attached to the process or any of the other methods people can come up with.

I do wonder whether it is trying to reinvent the wheel somewhat, with platforms such as Trial Reach already working to raise awareness of clinical trials.  Would it be better to do more to promote a platform that already exists?  Maybe.

The contest is running until the 27th May 2015, with winners due to be announced on the 8th July.  If you want to contribute, you can do so here.

Looking at post trial care

Of course, just as important as getting people signed up to clinical trials is engaging with them effectively once the trial has concluded.  Recent data from CISCRP suggests that many trial participants felt used by the researchers and were little more than human guinea pigs.

Indeed, data suggests that when post-trial engagement is low between researchers and patients, those patients are very unlikely to ever enroll in clinical trials again.

It would appear to be relatively straight forward to improve this situation, whether it’s through proper acknowledgement of patient contributions, giving them prompt access to the data from the trial itself, or even making them feel part of the community of people tackling the condition itself.

Sometimes I feel that the solution to these challenges are often very close at hand and don’t really need expansive challenges to come up with even more ideas.  Lets just implement the simple ones we already know about well and see where that gets us.

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