Pilot study suggests new technology could improve research efficiency

New technology could make health research more efficient and faster, according to results from a live pilot study carried out by UCLH with the companies IgniteData and AstraZeneca.

The system could help bring the benefits of research to patients more quickly.

The pilot study tested a system from the company IgniteData called Archer, which enables researchers to rapidly transfer patient data from electronic health records (EHRs) to research-specific software. The study found that data was transferred more quickly and accurately. At UCLH the EHR is called Epic.

Research-specific software is used by organisations involved in research to manage clinical trials. Transfer of information from EHRs to research databases is currently done manually, which is time-consuming and requires extensive checking.

The idea behind Archer – known as EHR-to-EDC (electronic health records to electronic data capture) – is to speed up data transfer and reduce the errors caused by manual data entry, helping to streamline the research process and save time and money. Archer stores no clinical data, and hospital staff have control over data so data ownership and control are never compromised.

The pilot study compared data transfer using Archer with the manual process – which was done in parallel – in a live cancer study sponsored by AstraZeneca.

Data which was transferred included vital signs and lab results, from four participants in the study. Archer was able to map and transfer 100% of this data to the research system.

Although data entry errors were identified in the main study, the data selected from the EHR using Archer was always an exact match of the data in the EHR. By eliminating data entry errors, Archer would significantly reduce the need for checking of data to make sure there are no errors.

Further studies will now be done to test and expand the use of Archer at UCLH and beyond.

Dr Nick McNally, Managing Director, UCL/UCLH Research, said: “Evidence from our collaboration with IgniteData and AstraZeneca shows that laborious manual data transcription methods might realistically become a thing of the past as we see clear advances in data transfer technology.

“The UCLH team found Archer to be intuitive and easy to use. We were up and running after a short but comprehensive training session – exactly as we hoped.”

UCLH Director of Research Prof Bryan Williams said: “This is important data from a very successful pilot. The study highlights the value of having digital data in an EHR, which can then be transferred in a semi-automated way to other research systems.

“The results published today are encouraging for the future of research using data. They streamline the delivery of research, and importantly, the way this technology works means that hospitals can maintain control over the data.”

Dan Hydes, CEO at IgniteData, said: “IgniteData is extremely proud to have been selected as the technology vendor of choice for this highly significant collaboration with UCLH and AstraZeneca. In a live setting, our data transfer technology has exceeded expectations. 100% of the data for Vital Signs and Labs was successfully mapped and data transcription errors were eliminated, paving the way for huge time-savings, and better use of precious research resources in the future.”

UCLH involvement in the study was led by the Trust’s previous Chief Research Information Officer Dr Wai Keong Wong, alongside Nausheen Saleem, Deputy Delivery Manager for Research & Innovation at UCLH, Sarah Taylor, Research Manager within the UCLH Cancer Clinical Trials Unit (CCTU), Amy Smith, Oncology Research Project Manager, CCTU, and Kylie Gyertson, Head of the CCTU.  Additionally, two of CCTU’s Data Management team, Kate Dear and Milly Denman, were crucial to the successful delivery of the project.