NIH backs effort to integrate clinical trials data into EHRs

The gold standard technology for clinical trials data has been electronic data capture (EDC) for years, but the systems used to manage trials data typically don't talk to the electronic records that doctors use for their patients. Now the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is part of the NIH, is joining forces with Health Level Seven International (HL7) to connect trials data with electronic health records, the group announced last month. Yet it might not be easy.

Talk of standards to make EHR systems interoperable with EDC-type data has taken place for years, with little to show in the way of progress. But HL7 said that it plans to launch a pilot project later this year, with the ultimate goal of applying the same standards the group uses for packaging clinical care data to clinical trials data, which could then be used by doctors to assist in and tailor treatments for patients who have been involved in clinical research.

In general, pharma companies have applauded efforts to open pipelines between clinical trials systems and EHRs, which could provide them with a way to find patients that are a good fit for their drug trials electronically. Aiming to stay on the leading edge, Oracle ($ORCL) went to market last year with a health research platform that offers the ability to analyze clinical trials data alongside EHR data. And the tech giant is also providing the same technology for a pilot electronic research network progressing in New York State as part of the Partnerships to Advance Clinical Electronic Research (PACeR).

PACeR and other efforts have attracted government agencies, hospitals, drugmakers, academic groups and tech providers to the table, as these parties all have a stake in speeding up the notoriously slow process of bringing new therapies to market. With patient and clinical trials data in electronic format and interoperable among different systems, the NCI and HL7 believe they can contribute to the goal. But history has proven that these types of interoperability efforts, especially in the healthcare arena, require lots of time, and progress can be awfully slow.

- here's the release
- see FierceHealthIT's article