Clinical trial participants hail from all walks of life. They are young and old, representing myriad races and ethnicities, and speak languages from all over the world. The generosity of people who agree to participate in clinical trials has made it possible for science to advance and for life-saving medications to become FDA-approved, improving the lives of millions of future patients. Why then, is it so very difficult to quickly find participants who are suitable for clinical trials?
There are several factors that affect the opportunities patients have to participate in clinical trials. One is the simple matter of time and energy to learn about clinical trials in the first place. For example, oncology is one of the largest therapeutic areas with new clinical trials emerging every month. Since cancer is such a complex medical condition, patients are usually referred by their primary care physician to a specialist who is highly trained in managing these diseases. Patients have to build trust with a new healthcare provider as they simultaneously navigate an unsettling diagnosis.
As both patients and care teams work to build a relationship, exchange critical medical history information, and embark on a journey rife with difficult decisions, everyone comes face-to-face with the reality of limited time and finite energy. Discussions regarding treatment options may become compressed. In some cases, the healthcare provider may not have easy access to clinical trials and must resort to cumbersome searches in clinical trial databases. Even if the clinician is part of a practice or health care system that is able to support a portfolio of clinical trials, their extremely busy clinic schedule may make it challenging to carve out time to present and explain clinical trials as an option for treatment for their patient.
Technology can offer support to both patients and clinicians in these situations. For clinicians and care teams, technology that is driven by well-trained and highly specialized artificial intelligence (AI) can remove some of the burden of tedious medical record review and curate potential clinical trial matches for specialists to consider. With the right technology, clinical trial databases can be searched quickly and easily even if the health care provider does not have those trials open in their office. With a clinical trial matching tool like Inspirata’s Trial Navigator, technology does the heavy lifting of scouring the medical record and comparing a patient’s clinical information to the clinical trial possibilities and produces a ‘match’ list. This frees up valuable time for the care team that is best suited to caring for the patient while integrating clinical trial options into the decision-making process.
For patients, technology provides a pathway to better understand the avalanche of information heaped upon them and build a bridge of knowledge, which in turn fosters engagement and collaboration with the clinical care team. The same technology that supports the care team in their important work assessing relevant clinical trials can also provide support and transparency for the patient. Clinical trial matching tools provide visibility to the patient about why they are a good match for a clinical trial and can help facilitate open, meaningful discussion. Empowered patients fuel stronger science. Well-crafted technological tools designed to accelerate science by putting patients at the center and making every moment matter will truly help us change the world.