Health Services Research
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Advanced Tablet-Based Application Recruits 5,000 Patients to Clinical Research Network


Health in Our Hands, a patient network and an initiative of REACHnet (formerly known as the Louisiana Clinical Data Research Network (LaCDRN)),reached a milestone in August 2016 by recruiting more than 5,000 patients using an innovative 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.

Health in Our Hands’ impressive enrollment rate is due to the 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 state-of-the-art application, including mobile and web-based versions, 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. The ability to expand engagement and recruitment efforts outside of the clinical setting through email and text message makes it possible to connect to the existing 5,000 network patients without waiting for their next clinic visit.

Patients at REACHnet participating clinics 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.

The Health in Our Hands network is increasingly being used by health researchers to provide a patient voice to the research team and ensure projects are addressing the issues and outcomes 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.

Recruitment for Health in Our Hands began in March 2015. As of June 2016, 217 tablets were deployed at Ochsner in 16 clinic locations and 4,295 patients had been recruited. Additionally, 16 tablets were deployed at EXCELth Family Health Center in Algiers and Gentilly and 19 tablets were deployed at St. Charles and St. Bernard Community Health Centers. Approximately 893 patients have been recruited in these community-based health centers. Finally, six tablets were deployed at Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children in April 2016 and 59 patients were recruited in the first two months.

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. Daughters of Charity Health Centers is an expansion of the tablets. It is anticipated that more than 750 tablets will be deployed by mid-2017.

REACHnet is a partnership between the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), Ochsner Health System, and Partnership for Achieving Total Health (PATH), Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Tulane University and Baylor Scott & White Health. Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as part of its PCORnet initiative, 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 three million patients in Louisiana and Texas.

“The innovative HiOH approach engages patients in all phases of the research process -- from feasibility assessment to trial recruitment to results dissemination,” said Thomas Carton, MS, PhD, Director of Health Services Research at LPHI and REACHnet’s Principal Investigator. “Given early scale and success, we are poised to expand this relatively limited pilot deeper within current REACHnet health systems and to previously untouched REACHnet health systems in Louisiana and Texas, with the goal of deploying over 1,000 tablets by early 2018.”

“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, MPH, MSPH, PhD and an Assistant Professor in Epidemiology at LSUHSC. “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.”

“Patient centered research is critical. If my physicians had approached my own health conditions differently, the outcome might have been drastically different. I love working with REACHnet as a patient partner because it is a reciprocal relationship. I feel supported and empowered to share my patient perspective and feel like I have a voice. Having an impact on the research process and knowing that what I share is relevant to the work that REACHnet does to help others is incredible,” said Ava Zebrick, a REACHnet patient partner.