AI-Based Tool May Help Patients Find Clinical Trials

January 16, 2021
Brielle Benyon

An artificial-intelligence based tool helped patients find and understand clinical trials, which could eventually lead to more diverse trial populations.

A novel artificial intelligence (AI)-based search tool made it easier for patients to find and understand cancer clinical trials, while also offering more clarity on how to enroll in them, according to an ongoing study presented at the 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Cancertrialsearch.com helped to match patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers to clinical trials using 7 different criteria: trial sponsor, trial phase, tumor type, cancer stage, across solid tumors, by genetic mutations, and by previous treatment.

“Patients have limited access to an understanding of clinical trials and the online search tools that we have available — not only for patients, but even for providers – can be very hard to navigate,” study author Pashtoon Kasi, MD, MS, clinical assistant professor of internal medicine, hematology, oncology and blood and marrow transplantation at the University of Iowa Health Care, said during a virtual presentation at the symposium.

Improving understanding and access to clinical trials may result in more representative trial enrollment. Lack of diversity in clinical trials has been an issue that many researchers are facing, and can result in, “sometimes devastating medical consequences,” the researchers wrote.

After utilizing cancertrialsearch.com, participants were asked to complete a 20-minute survey evaluating both clinicaltrials.gov — which is commonly used for searching for trials – and the novel tool cancertrialsearch.com. Patients used a 5-point Likert scale to rate aspects of usability for each platform.

“We took GI clinical trials as an example of how this would be applicable to several other tumor types,” Kasi said. “The trial information is restructured based on key eligibility differentiators, [and] is patient-focused in terms of providing questionnaires that have been based on eligibility differentiators, which could be further personalized, and a value for institutions as well as patient advocacy groups.”

At baseline, the average rating for participants’ understanding of clinical trials was 3.1 (±1.2). Patient associations and the internet were their main sources of information about trials. Finding clinical trials was easier for patients using cancertrialsearch.com, compared to not using the tool (3.7±0.9 vs. 2.7±1.3, respectively).

Additionally, the researchers said that the tool improved patients’ understanding of information presented (3.8±1.1 vs. 2.6±1.3); and directionally provided more clarity on how to enroll in trials (4.2±0.8 vs. 3.7±1.4). Ultimately, these factors led to improved patient satisfaction (3.4±1.1 vs. 2.3±0.5).

Cancertrialsearch.com also could lead to better connection among principal investigators, patients and caregivers, and advocacy groups.

“In summary, with this cancertrialsearch.com tool, personalizing and simplifying client information can lead to better patient comprehension, as well as ease of access and navigation, leading to better patient satisfaction and an increased trial pool,” Kasi said. “This could mean broader and more diverse patient pool.”

Reference

Kasi PM, Jordan E, Jahreiss L. Deploying an AI-based online search tool to increase patients’ access to and understanding of solid tumor GI clinical trials. Presented at: Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, Jan. 15-17, 2021. Abstract 456.