USF Health and EmergingMed have launched a Clinical Trials Matching Service that offers patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals a personalized, confidential matching and referral service for clinical studies at USF and other research affiliates across the Tampa Bay region.
The free navigation service can be accessed in English or Spanish, either by the Internet or by phone. Its development was funded in part by a three-year federal Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) Telehealth Program grant, which supports the use of technology to deliver health care, information and education to the state’s rural and underserved populations.
The new USF database lists ongoing clinical trials for 40 medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, depression, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette syndrome, to name a few. Individuals can quickly search and determine initial eligibility for the clinical studies. With permission, the centralized call center’s Clinical Trial Navigators place follow-up calls to patients to address basic clinical trials questions and help assure connection with a clinical trial site.
While the trials currently listed are operated out of the Tampa Bay area – through USF Health, including hospital partners Tampa General Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center — the service hopes to expand to encompass ongoing clinical research studies at other universities, hospitals and clinics across the state, said the project’s principal investigator Phillip Marty, PhD, associate vice president for research at USF Health.
“USF Health is committed to providing patients who are exploring treatment options access to the latest research opportunities targeting their specific diagnosis and treatment history,” Dr. Marty said. “We want to create a common database platform that will increase the likelihood of Floridians finding clinical trials closer to home.”
Clinical trials are patient-oriented studies critical for advancing the prevention, detection or treatment of disease. Their goal is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new tests, medications, surgical procedures and devices, or other treatments compared to existing standards of care.
Participants have the opportunity to help clinicians and researchers improve health and quality of life, while simultaneously receiving care that is as good as, or exceeds, standard care. Yet, only about 2 percent of Americans get involved with clinical trials research each year, according to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation.
Karen Moffitt, PhD, a former USF educator, said USF’s Florida Clinical Trials Matching Service is modeled after FloridaCancerTrials.com. Moffitt was a founder of that now well-established statewide clinical trial service for patients diagnosed with cancer, along with former Florida Lt. Governor Frank Brogan and physician representatives from major cancer centers across Florida, including Moffitt Cancer Center. She was instrumental in conceiving the idea for the USF Clinical Trials Matching Service, and securing the funding needed to pilot the project.
The ultimate goal is to work toward a single, shared statewide clinical trials database for all diseases, not only cancer, which each institution could use to identify appropriate trials for patients in their communities, said Moffitt, lead author of a 2010 study that evaluated the Florida Cancer Trials network.
“More than 25 percent of all clinical trials open for enrollment in Florida are not listed in the federal database clinicaltrials.gov,” she said. “We need to do a better job of providing up-to-date, accurate information and streamlining the enrollment process so that clinical trials are more accessible for patients and physicians.”
To access the online service, powered by EmergingMed, click here. To search by phone, call toll free (855) 731-6034.