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by Flavia Rovis | Fadi El-Turk
Published on 22 June 2015

The importance of research for the progress of medicine is undoubted. It is thanks to decades of scientific experiments and publications that life-threatening diseases are now curable conditions. Translational research connects scientific discoveries with the medical practice, providing evidence to support healthcare decisions. Clinical trials are the core of translational research.

Some of the biggest challenges facing staff involved in clinical trials today are designing the study, recruiting patients and recording research outcomes data. Inaccurate design can lead to costly study amendments. Inability to identify study candidates can lead to study delays. Duplicate entry of research outcomes data can lead to transcription errors.

A systematic review by Köpckee and Prokosch (2014)* suggests that some of these challenges are due to limited access to patient records. Research modules integrated with the Electronic Patient Record (EPR) can help improve the study design, cohort identification, recruitment and the quality of research data.

Globally for more than 30 years, Cerner has focused on making health care safer and more efficient by linking research and evidence-based decision support at the point of care and has been a key provider for digitising the NHS. We have at the moment two EPR-integrated research modules supporting clinical research workflows: PowerTrials and Discovere.

PowerTrials is a clinical trial recruitment support module which enables efficient identification of study candidates, facilitates consent tracking and recruitment, and automatically flags clinicians about patients in clinical trials.

This integrated approach helps improve patient safety, study recruitment protocol compliance and data quality.

Discovere is a secure research data capture platform for investigator-initiated studies. Research staff can use secure role-based portals to access and complete electronic Case Report Forms (eCRFs). As this platform is on the web, it can support multi-centre studies enabling researchers from different locations in the UK to contribute their research outcomes data.

Participants can also complete questionnaires and report on their outcomes through this platform. One of the main benefits of using this platform is to be able to pull relevant clinical data from Cerner’s EPR thereby minimising duplicate data entry.

Over the past two years, a number of our clients have been piloting PowerTrials and Discovere modules to support their clinical research and their staff are now using these modules to support their clinical trials and registries.

They already observed that with using PowerTrials, the number of patients being screened for the study had reached 10 times the study’s recruitment target.

One research clinician even saw the benefits of using PowerTrials within the first few minutes of live service when he saw scores of patients being listed as potentially eligible for his study. A number of registries have also been set up in PowerTrials in the UK, one of which has already over 500 patients consented and registered. Clients also noticed how quick and easy it is to build the eCRFs in Discovere.

To address the historic disconnection between research and health care information technology systems, we invest in solutions that integrate research and health care workflows accelerating trials progression, increasing security in research data and supporting collaborations.

The use of our research solutions in the UK is a great example of how clinical research can benefit from the transparency and facilitated flow of information of an EPR-integrated research management electronic system.

This blog post was written jointly with Dr Flavia Rovis, Senior Practice Manager for the Health Networks & Research at Cerner, and Fadi El-Turk, Consultant for the Health Networks & Research at Cerner.

*Source: Köpcke, F., Prokosch, H.U., Employing computers for the recruitment into clinical trials: a comprehensive systematic review, J Med Internet Res. (2014) 16(7)