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MADISON, Wis. – Patients at UW Health could now receive messages directly in MyChart inviting them to participate in health research.
This year, patients who have access to their MyChart accounts might have noticed a new tab on their profile labeled “Research,” according to Dr. Mike Semanik, physician informaticist, University of Wisconsin school of Medicine and Public Health, who helps lead the MyChart research recruitment effort at UW–Madison.
This is where patients might see a message indicating they could be a good fit for a research study or clinical trial.
“This is a win-win for patients and researchers,” he said. “Researchers can access the right patient population quickly and efficiently, and patients can more easily engage with clinical trials that could make a genuine difference in their lives and the lives of future patients.”
The recruitment team works collaboratively with teams conducting clinical trials on a range of illnesses, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes. The team uses technology available in patients’ electronic health records to identify potential trial participants. The study team then confirms eligibility before sending out participation invitations. Thus, anyone receiving an invitation is likely to be a good fit for that research study. Patients can opt out of receiving clinical trial participation invitations at any time by calling the phone number listed on all invitations.
Following a nine-month pilot program, MyChart recruitment formally launched in July 2023. Four to eight trials per month use this tactic, according to Semanik.
“Our early data show that researchers get as high as a 25% response rate, which is more effective in getting the right participants connected with the right trials than traditional mail or phone calls,” he said. “Some trials are finally finding the right people to participate after years of searching, thanks to this.”
That is true for Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, associate professor of kinesiology at UW-Madison, who was recruiting for a trial looking at physical activity in patients with cancer for more than three years.
“When we were able to recruit via MyChart, we filled our study with the right people in a timely and efficient way,” she said. “The ability to reach out directly to patients speeds the research process so we can learn more about how to help people live an active, healthy life.”
The phase I implementation is focused on non-sensitive studies for adults living in Wisconsin who are English-speaking and have access to a MyChart account, according to Jomol Mathew, associate dean for informatics and information technology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
“We hope to expand this capability to pediatric patients and add more languages in the next phases,” she said.
“MyChart recruitment will allow UW Health patients the opportunity to more easily contribute to research on illnesses that may have affected them or their loved ones,” said Betsy Nugent, chief clinical research officer, UW Health and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “Study participants are critical partners in our mission to improve the future of health in Wisconsin, so we hope MyChart will help them identify and explore more opportunities to engage in important health research.”
UW Health patients are encouraged to check MyChart to determine if they could be eligible for a research study. Details for all clinical trials at UW Health and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health can be found on StudyFinder.