A Louisiana clinical research network has been able to recruit more than 5,000 patients using a tablet-based application presented to patients in their physician's examination room. The electronic process obtains patients' consent to participate in a network that integrates patient perspectives into research and connects them to research projects supported by their health system.
REACHnet (formerly known as the Louisiana Clinical Data Research Network) is leading an initiative called Health in Our Hands, which allows health researchers to provide a patient voice to the research team and ensure projects are addressing issues most important to the community. The network can expedite the research process because researchers don't have to build the data infrastructure or collect the baseline data. They can use the data collected that are relevant to their question, and can use the patient network to efficiently collect additional data.
The project has seen deployment of 258 tablets in 20 clinics at Ochsner Health System, EXCELth Family Health Center, Access Health Louisiana, and Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children in the Greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.
The application collects patient-reported health information, provides an avenue for patients to inform and partner in the research process, recruits patients into pragmatic clinical trials, and facilitates ongoing trial participation and management.
Patients consenting into Health in Our Hands agree to be contacted outside of clinical settings to learn about these opportunities, including participation in research trials. Expanding engagement and recruitment efforts outside of the clinical setting through e-mail and text message makes it possible for researchers to connect to the 5,000 network patients without waiting for their next clinic visit.
Patients are currently being recruited via Health in Our Hands and in-clinic tablets for two trials. WeighSmart, a trial comparing weight-loss interventions using smart scales and text message reminders to weigh in, is currently recruiting in nine clinics. ADAPTABLE, the first nationwide trial to be conducted in PCORnet, a national clinical research network of which REACHnet is a member, is comparing the effectiveness of two aspirin dosages in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Health in Our Hands will expand to more sites including Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Health and Daughters of Charity Health Centers. It is anticipated that more than 750 tablets will be deployed by mid-2017.
“The Health in Our Hands Network is a great resource for researchers and clinicians that are interested in reaching out to patients,” said Tekeda Freeman Ferguson, an assistant professor in epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, in a prepared statement. “I wanted to be able to quickly capture breast cancer patients' interest in a particular health issues and the Health in Our Hands Network was able to get my question out to numerous patients and caregivers for feedback. I look forward to using the network again in the future.”
Launched in March 2014 and awarded an initial $6.9 million by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), REACHnet is a partnership between the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Ochsner Health System, Partnership for Achieving Total Health (PATH), Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tulane University and Baylor Scott & White Health. The second phase of this initiative began in September 2015 with an additional $6.9 million from PCORI for the next three years. The partnership will continue to increase the capacity to conduct robust comparative effectiveness research by building a health information technology infrastructure that provides access to comprehensive clinical data for more than one million patients in Louisiana and Texas.