The University of Kansas Cancer Center has developed a new mobile app to match anyone looking for specific cancer trials with an optimal match with the ability to quickly communicate with the KU cancer center clinical trials team. Although there is plenty of information online, from national guidelines to all sorts of patient advocacy groups focused on every type of cancer—and national guidelines in fact recommend that cancer patients consider research participation as part of the nascent and growing clinical research as a care option movement, finding the right clinical trial can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Well for folks residing in Kansas, TrialSite introduces the KUCC Clinical Trial Finder, now available via iOS and Android platforms. While, of course, patients should speak directly with their physician, they can also get the support of an app developed by a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center.
TrialSite provides a brief breakdown of this new app that can benefit everyone. KU’s cancer center has introduced an important next iteration of a class of app that’s been around for many years now. The difference, designed to collect millions of names for monetization, KU invests to progress the oncology-focused clinical research as a care option movement, and TrialSite commends them for their effort.
Why are apps such as these so important?
Tara Lin, MD, serves KU as the medical director of the cancer center’s Clinical Trials Office and emphasized in their recent press release the importance of optimized matching of cancer patients to trials: “Every advance made in clinical cancer medicine has come through trials. By making it easier for patients and referring physicians to identify the right clinical trials, we bring the latest innovations to each individual patient. Rapid completion of clinical trials gets new treatments approved, bringing these innovations to more patients.”
What’s the premise behind targeting local Kansas physicians?
Well health care is local! And in most cases those individuals that are interested in research will consult with their primary care provider. As Dinesh Pal Mudaranthakam, MBA, director of Research Information Technology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, pointed out recently in the KU press, approximately “60% of clinical trial participants come from physician referrals.”
Mr. Mudaranthakam continued on the importance of targeting local physicians for the app: “We wanted to provide physicians located in our catchment area with a platform that offers a comprehensive list of cancer clinical trials at their fingertips.”
So Who is the Target Market?
Patients, but importantly doctors as well. Again as Mr. Mudaranthakam pointed ou,t its doctors that often make referrals of patients to studies.
What’s the Value Add for the Doctors?
Well, prior to the development of this app, those doctors in this region had to contact the KU Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office to find the most recent information or peruse a little-known website. Now with this app, the doctor should be able to connect with the trial faster and hopefully connect more patients with more relevant studies.
What about the challenge that so many people have no medical home?
Many people have no steady primary care physician and when they do fall ill they visit urgent clinics or even emergency rooms. These doctors will still be targets for this app so they can be more aware of when there is a patient without a primary care physician they can still direct the newly diagnosed patient toward relevant research.
With so many apps and websites matching patients to clinical trials, why is this one different?
Well, first, it was created by individuals working in oncology research based at a prestigious NCI-Designated Cancer Center. In addition to refined matches, this app has built in logic to better determine if the searcher meets the trial’s inclusion and exclusion criteria but also determine if the particular study can better match the patient’s needs.
What other capabilities are notable?
During a screening process, the patient can share medical history for review and actually communicate and meet a physician for a scientific overview and rationale for the clinical trial, including a breakdown of benefits and risks.
Who developed the app?
This app was developed by a team of professionals from both the University of Kansas Cancer Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Announced at the end of 2020, an applications architect with the biostatistics and data science department at the KU School of Medicine, Vinay Murakonda, worked closely with cancer center clinicians and clinical trial experts to develop the app.
When developing any kind of specialized software (including apps) domain expertise is vitally important. Hence the gratitude Mr. Murakonda expressed recently about the whole development process, declaring, “It was an immense opportunity for me to interact with physicians, as well as our indispensable staff at the clinical trials office, to develop this app. We were thoughtful in ensuring all the needs of our stakeholders were met.”
Other team members involved in the development of this app included Raed Al-Rajabi, MD; Autumn Tribitt; Jecinta Scott; BJ Broome; Adam AlDouri; Goutham Marikanti; Hobs Apell; Byron Gajewski, PhD; Matthew Mayo, PhD, MBA; Roy Jensen, MD; members of the Clinical Trials Office, and members of Biostatistics Informatics Shared Resource.
What are the apps basics?
The KU Cancer Center Clinical Trial Finder app presently affords the user three options off its home page, including (1) Find Trial by Disease State (2) Make a Trial Referral and (3) Get Trial Help Via Email.
How to download the app?
This app is now available for iOS and Android users. Simply go to the App Store or Google Play Store and search for KUCC Clinical Trial Finder and from there download the app to the personal device of choice.
Key Contacts Associated with the App
Tara Lin, MD, serves KU as the medical director of the cancer center’s Clinical Trials Office
Dinesh Pal Mudaranthakam, MBA, director of Research Information Technology at the University of Kansas Medical Center
Call to Action: Download the app and check it out. If someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, ensure you understand at least what clinical trials are in your region that can match the diagnosed condition.