Telemedicine Brings Clinical Trials to Patients

Patients at the Mount Sinai Health System and at leading medical centers around the world have benefitted from therapeutic treatments that are tested during clinical trials.

But trials can be inconvenient. Patients may decide they no longer want to travel long distances or pay expensive transportation costs and drop out early, or choose not to participate at all.

Matthew Galsky, MD, Director of Genitourinary Medical Oncology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and The Tisch Cancer Institute, hopes to improve participation by designing patient-friendly clinical trials that rely on technology to reduce time and cost for patients. A recent study by Dr. Galsky found that roughly 20 percent of cancer clinical trials are never completed.

Later this spring, Dr. Galsky will begin enrolling men with recurrent prostate cancer in a clinical trial that enables them to use a computer tablet to communicate with him from their homes, replacing the study visits that would take place at his Mount Sinai office.

The patients will interact with him and members of the clinical staff via secure videoconferencing to protect their privacy, and will be able to have their blood drawn at a laboratory close to home.

The computer tablet will also track the patients’ adherence to the diabetes drug metformin, which Dr. Galsky is repurposing to see whether it can also be used to keep prostate cancer in check.

Patients throughout the United States, as well as those coming for second opinions, will be able to explore trial participation.

“If we could reduce the burden of travel, time, and money, I think that we could make participation in clinical trials a lot more attractive,” says Dr. Galsky. “When researchers meet enrollment targets, we are not only able to finish trials, but turn around and bring patients the latest information on how best to care for them. Failed enrollment means that answers to the research that the trial was designed to tackle do not get addressed.”

Patients with recurrent prostate cancer can call 212-824-8583 if they are interested in participating in the trial.

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