Electronic clinical research

The U.S. government plans to pump $19 billion into boosting adoption of electronic health records, an investment that promises to digitize the medical histories of millions of patients. While many of the digital records systems lack interoperability, pharma companies and other stakeholders have begun to seek ways of tapping vast amounts of electronic patient information to aid clinical research.

For example, Partnership to Advance Clinical Electronic Research (PACeR) in New York aims to pilot a system that could enable investigators and sponsors to benefit from the use of electronic patient records to find patients for clinical trials and other studies. While some sticky legal, technical and privacy issues lay in their path, the members of the nonprofit effort include a variety drugmakers and developers, hospitals, health systems and software companies with a vested interest and realizing this vision.

Pfizer and other major drugmakers have revealed a willingness to pay for the information that could be culled from large amounts of electronic health data. And software giant Oracle ($ORCL) last month unveiled a set of cloud-based applications that support sharing of de-identified patient information between collaborators such as a health system and research partner in pharma. Also, DecisionView, a provider of clinical research software, has recently become part of health information powerhouse IMS Health. In June, IMS executives told me that they are laying the groundwork for using Big Data sources from IMS in Decision View's web-based analytics that let pharma companies identify optimal clinical trial sites and plan patient enrollment.

Electronic clinical research

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