Oracle, others plan NY clinical research network

We've made strides priming the pump for greater U.S. adoption of electronic health records, but we've still got a ways to go before those records become a mainstream asset to clinical studies for new drugs and other healthcare products. Yet a large partnership of stakeholders-including Oracle ($ORCL) Health Sciences, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), and Quintiles--are planning to bridge that gap.

This week the Partnership to Advance Clinical Electronic Research (PACeR) is unveiling plans for an electronic clinical research data network in New York State as a model for using electronic patient data to aid in evidence-based clinical studies. The NY pilot effort--which involves life sciences firms, hospitals, academic centers and other stakeholders--builds on the group's earlier phase of its initiative to study the legal, technical and other hurdles to using electronic patient data for clinical studies and provide some insights on how to tackle those issues.

The big idea here is that drawing patient data from electronic health records could improve the speed, quality and efficacy of clinical trials accross the country. One obvious plus would be the ability to quickly identify patients for trial recruitment, an often long and expensive aspect of clinical studies. Now that PACeR, formed in 2010, believes it has a business model to operate a network like the one it has planned for New York in a sustainable way, the group and its partners face such tricky tasks as developing a common language that can be used for disparate electronic records systems to share information for clinical studies.

"Oracle is committed to being part of PACeR's groundbreaking work aimed at creating a sustainable, electronic clinical research data network in New York to support more efficient and effective clinical trial participant recruitment," Neil de Crescenzo, senior VP and general manager at Oracle Health Sciences, said in a statement. "The group's Phase I findings confirm the feasibility of such a network and define a clear path forward."

It'd be easy to be skeptical about this initiative, as getting multiple stakeholders in healthcare to march in the same direction can be like herding cats. Yet small studies at VA hospitals and elsewhere are already beginning to show the value of electronic health records in improving patient treatment. So the PACeR effort might be worth rooting for, as long as it sticks to its mission to serve needs of patients.

- download the PACeR press materials and its new whitepaper here

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