RAD speaker says national network to help recruitment for clinical trials

April 22, 2015

RAD Keynote Robert Toto

Clinical trials can pave the way for new life-saving treatments, but they often fail because investigators are unable to recruit patients.

A new national network of institutions could make it easier to recruit patients and ultimately move the field of medicine forward, said Dr. Robert Toto, the keynote speaker for the 23rd annual Research Appreciation Day at UNT Health Science Center.

“The advancement of translational research requires a sufficient number of patients to succeed,” said Dr. Toto, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “This could help us select the appropriate patients for clinical trials and reduce expensive, redundant research.”

This multi-site national network that Dr. Toto is helping develop will match people with specific trials and be a more meaningful way to recruit patients, he said.

The network would use the Electronic Health Record (EHR) to boost enrollment by identifying people with rare as well as common diseases that match clinical trials.

“While the EHR was designed for clinical billing, it has great potential to increase the efficiency of clinical trials,” Dr. Toto said.

In as little time as a minute, people who fit specific criteria for a trial could be identified, he said.

“You could ask the software to tell you how many people in a patient population have disease X?” he said. “Then you could use this information to recruit patients.”

Less than 10 percent of adult patients participate in clinical trials, but this network could change that.

“We have to have humans involved in these trials, and they have to be safe and efficient,” Dr. Toto said. “Ultimately our goal is to improve human health.”

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