New portal addresses researchers’ need to identify potential clinical trial volunteers and helps Canadians access experimental COVID-19 treatments
(Toronto/Montreal) April 14, 2020 — As Canadian researchers join the global race to uncover effective treatments for COVID-19 and to develop a vaccine, there is an urgent need to connect the right people with the right clinical trial. Covidtrials.ca is the first Canadian patient portal to match those who are seeking to participate in a research project with the physicians and investigators who are working on these trials, allowing them to join a trial quickly and efficiently.
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Twelve clinical trials have currently been approved by Health Canada to test potential COVID-19 treatments and more are likely to begin in the days and weeks ahead. Different trials require different volunteers — that may be a patient who has been recently exposed to COVID-19, a person who is dealing with the disease at home, or someone who has recovered from the illness, among other profiles.
“This idea was born out of a need we are experiencing firsthand,” says Dr. Ramy Saleh, a physician with the McGill University Health Centre and founder of Covidtrials.ca. “We are currently working to enroll patients in an approved trial at the hospital. We know there are patients out there who are interested in accessing this treatment and who want to do what they can to support the research. Unfortunately, because the healthcare system and frontline physicians are under so much strain and pressure right now, it is difficult to locate and connect to those people.”
Covidtrials.ca works by matching people with Canadian COVID-19 clinical trials. Prospective volunteers can visit the website and fill out an online registration form with their information. That data is then shared securely with the appropriate research teams, who can then contact the person directly if their profile matches the needs of the trial. All of the information is stored on a secure cloud platform, housed in Canada and the portal is overseen by a medical leadership made up of physicians from across the country.
Already, several Canadian clinical trials have expressed their support for Covidtrials.ca, including active studies in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta.
“Recruiting participants to volunteer for clinical trials can be challenging at the best of times and more difficult given the current pandemic where there is a time pressure to obtain knowledge coupled with the pressure physicians and patients face to have as many options for treatment available as possible,” says Dr. Todd Lee, national lead investigator on the first clinical trial for COVID-19 to recruit patients in Canada, an outpatient hydroxychloroquine trial run out of McGill University Health Centre. “We have patients and physicians contacting us who are asking for information on available trials. If they are not eligible for our study, they don’t know where to go. This is an incredibly important resource.”
Facilitating the connection between potential volunteers and clinical trials can also help accelerate clinical research efforts.
“Canada has some of the brightest people in the world working to find treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19 and now is not the time to be working in silos,” says Dr. Lauren Kelly from the University of Manitoba. “Connecting patients and researchers quickly helps to answer questions faster around what works best.”
Covidtrials.ca will also provide a space for healthcare professionals and researchers currently awaiting approval of their trials to share their proposals and engage with the broader Canadian clinical trials community and with potential participants.
Covidtrials.ca is a not-for-profit initiative of Canadian health technology company Think Research and its subsidiary Airmed Trials with brand and website support provided pro bono by Zync, a digital branding agency.
Finding effective treatments to mitigate the toll of COVID-19 demands solutions that require us to work together and be more connected than ever before. For more information on how to register or join a trial, please visit Covidtrials.ca.
About Airmed Trials
Airmed Trials is a healthcare information technology company, focusing specifically on clinical trials and workflow optimization. We are dedicated to solving problems and providing systems that make the research process more efficient and more profitable. Our mission is to create unique and innovative software solutions for hospitals, hospital networks and all participants in the clinical trial enterprise. We are constantly listening to our customers’ needs to provide new innovations that streamline processes and help achieve operational goals.
About Think Research
Think Research, an enterprise clinical content and technology company, delivers evidence-based clinical tools grounded in best practice. Our focused mission is to organize the world’s health knowledge so everyone gets the best care. Since 2006, our cloud-based, digital tools have empowered clinicians around the world and have impacted millions of patients across all sectors of care: acute, primary, long term and community. We are proud to serve as a trusted health system partner to a rapidly growing client base that spans three continents and more than 2,200 healthcare facilities. For more information, visit www.thinkresearch.com or follow us on Twitter @TRChealth.