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2,500 Patients Recruited to Join a Clinical Research Network Using Innovative Tablet-Based Application

Consultant Discussing Test Results With Patient In Doctor's Surgery Smiling

Health in Our Hands, a patient network and an initiative of REACHnet (formerly known as the Louisiana Clinical Data Research Network (LaCDRN), has reached a milestone by recruiting more than 2,500 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, connects patients to research projects supported by their health system, and shares research results related to their personal health characteristics and interests.

Health in Our Hands’ impressive enrollment rate is due to the deployment of over 250 tablets in twenty clinics at Ochsner Health System, EXCELth Family Health Center, and Access Health Louisiana in the Greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. Researchers and clinicians at the health systems are using the tablet-based application to recruit patients for clinical research and other engagement opportunities.

The innovative application, including mobile and web-based versions, collects patient-specific health information and data from mobile health monitoring devices, 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. The ability to expand recruitment efforts outside of the clinical setting through email and text message makes it possible to recruit from the existing 2,500 patients for large-scale, multi-site trials without waiting for their next clinic visit.

Patients at REACHnet participating clinics will be recruited via Health in Our Hands and in-clinic tablets for three upcoming trials. WeighSmart, a local REACHnet-initiated trial comparing weight-loss interventions using smart scales and text message reminders to weigh, is currently recruiting in four clinics. ADAPTABLE, the first nationwide trial to be conducted in PCORnet, a national clinical research network of which REACHnet is a member, will compare the effectiveness of two aspirin dosages in patients with a medical history of certain cardiovascular conditions. A second large-scale multi-site trial, Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy, will be implemented at Ochsner Health System and will use the application to identify and recruit pregnant women at risk for hypertension, based on medical history and randomize them into treatment.

Recruitment for Health in Our Hands began in March 2015. In the six months since, 218 tablets were deployed at Ochsner in 16 clinic locations and recruited 1,958 patients. During this same time, 11 tablets were deployed at EXCELth Family Health Center in Algiers, and 20 tablets were deployed at St. Charles and St. Bernard Community Health Centers. 547 patients have been recruited in these community-based health centers.

Health in Our Hands will expand to more sites at Ochsner, Access Health, and EXCELth while also launching in additional partner systems, including Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center, Tulane University, Baylor Scott & White Health, and other potential expansion sites in Louisiana and Texas. It is anticipated that more than 500 tablets will be deployed by June 2016.

REACHnet, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), is a partnership between the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), Ochsner Health System, Partnership for Achieving Total Health (PATH), Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tulane University and Baylor Scott & White Health. This collaborative alliance works 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.

“The success we’ve seen with Health in Our Hands has been tremendous and we are excited to continue these efforts as we expand into other partner sites,” said Thomas Carton, MS, PhD, Director of Health Services Research at LPHI and REACHnet’s Principal Investigator. “The tablet-based application that we’ve built works to include patients in the research process in a way that’s never been done before, while also making research faster and more affordable.”

“Electronic consenting of patients for pragmatic clinical trials is the future of clinical research,” said Sohail Rao, MD, MA, DPhil, System Vice President for Research at Ochsner Health System and site Principal Investigator of REACHnet. “By participating in the design, development and successful deployment of this technology at Ochsner, we have taken a lead in incorporating this electronic platform of e-consenting and patient-reported outcomes with cutting-edge clinical research that informs outstanding patient care”.

“It is amazing how much can be achieved by employing technology and creativity into medical practice,” said Monir Shalaby, MD, Medical Director of EXCELth Family Health Center. “Health in Our Hands is an innovative way to connect hospitals, providers, researchers, cutting edge technology, and patients, it opens the doors to unlimited possibilities. It is impressive how well perceived by patients and our nursing staff alike.”