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Advancing Progress and Possibilities for a Healthier Future

Ochsner and Pfizer Team Up to Create a “Digital Superhighway” for Clinical Trials

The adoption of electronic health records has delivered
a host of benefits to patients, clinicians and hospitals — but, until recently, the value has
not yet been realized in medical research.

Ochsner’s Research team works on finding new clinical trial treatments for patients. If the treatment proves to be effective and safe in studies, it may become a new standard treatment.

Since the inception of electronic health records (EHRs), effectively integrating EHR data into clinical trial databases has been a goal of research institutions, industry and regulators. Such integration would reduce the burden of manual data entry, save time, decrease cost and accelerate clinical trials. The ongoing challenge has been exchanging data between healthcare systems and clinical trial systems, because each uses different technology platforms and data standards.

In 2019 we took a major step toward achieving integration between EHR data and clinical trial databases through an exciting new partnership with Pfizer, believed to be one of the first of its kind in U.S. healthcare. Through this partnership, Pfizer and Ochsner — through our innovation lab, innovationOchsner (iO), and in partnership with Ochsner Research — has developed a process for automatic electronic data exchange of study data. This level of interoperability will reduce the burden on investigators and study teams, while improving the quality of research data being captured. The initiative utilizes a standard known as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) that was created as a secure and open solution for healthcare data exchange to accelerate information sharing.

The idea is to build a kind of “digital superhighway,” and the potential benefits of the integration between Ochsner’s EHR platform, Epic, and clinical trial databases are many, including:

  • Fewer mistakes and delays in data transfer
  • Time and effort saved on data entry and audits
  • More resources available for recruiting and enrolling patients in studies
  • Ability to include electronic data collected through apps, wearables and home monitoring devices that are increasingly being used in studies

Through our partnership with Pfizer, iO and Ochsner Research are looking at other ways to innovate the clinical trial experience for providers and patients. This includes operationalizing advanced research functionality in Epic that can proactively convey information about clinical trials to physicians, who otherwise may find it difficult to stay abreast of all the emerging therapies for their patients and their eligibility for clinical trials. In addition, another project is focused on developing new ways to digitize the patient and clinician experience throughout the clinical trial journey, while being attentive to patient preferences on access to and use of their health data. The underlying goals of this work are to enhance the quality and value of clinical research interactions for all participants and ultimately increase the speed at which new treatments are available to patients.

The first lanes of this digital superhighway are just beginning to be built, but we’re encouraged about the potential to vastly improve the data infrastructure supporting clinical trials and help the benefits of medical research impact more people more quickly.