Get involved with science straight from your smartphone.
Researchers may have innovative ideas for new studies, but actually getting people to participate in the research is a daunting task in itself. In fact, Forbes’ Judy Stone reports that only 3 percent of people with cancer participate in clinical trials, so it’s evident that the science world desperately needs a study participation boost.
Peter Elkin, professor and chair of the biomedical informatics department and professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, has developed a new smartphone app designed to link people up with the best-fitting clinical trials. He and his team, funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), hope to boost study involvement by helping patients quickly find clinical trials in their geographic locations, matching their own health interests and conditions.
The app, called Participants in Science, was presented last week at the Information Technology in Academic Medicine conference in Toronto, and will be available by the end of the summer through iTunes and GooglePlay, reports MedCityNews.
“About two-thirds of clinical trials never reach full recruitment, and that is a serious barrier to get treatments that work to people who need those treatments,” Elkin said. “We thought by contacting potential participants directly and using a smartphone app to enroll in trials might help [clinical trials] to recruit more quickly.”
In fact, the UB press release states that it takes an average of 17 years for laboratory breakthroughs to reach patients, largely due to the time it takes to recruit patients into clinical trials to test out new treatments or devices.
Further, only 5 to 10 percent of eligible adults enroll in the trials, and previous research has found that only 5 percent of patients who show initial interest actually go on to complete a clinical trial.
Volunteers can currently sign up for studies using websites like clinicaltrials.gov and researchmatch.org, but the new smartphone app offers more detailed information. Users will be able to see exactly how far the trial is located from their homes, the time commitment required, and whether the research is paid.
“This app has the potential to significantly speed enrollment in clinical trials and the translation of basic research into new therapies to benefit our patients,” Elkin concluded in the release. “By allowing patients to essentially self-recruit, this app empowers individuals to more actively participate in improving their health and the health of their communities.”
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