Beyond the EMR: New Technology That Supports Clinical Research and Trial Enrollment

Clinical trial enrollment is often challenging for hospitals and other clinical trial sites. In fact, industry research shows that nearly 70% of all clinical trial sites fail to meet enrollment targets.

The good news is that new technology can help change this dynamic, making it easier and faster for hospitals to identify eligible clinical trial patients.

Clinical trial sites across the country, such as Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, are already experiencing the benefits of this technology.

What’s different about this new technology?

While many hospitals rely on manual identifications from their electronic medical record (EMR) to enroll eligible candidates, this process can be extremely time consuming.

New technology, like VigiLanz Research, integrates with a hospital’s EMR to find patients for clinical trials in real time.

It does this by applying intelligent rule sets—tailored specifically to a clinical trial’s unique protocols—to automatically search the hospital’s entire EMR and alert researchers when an eligible candidate is identified within the system.

Three advantages of this new approach

Here are three advantages of using new technology to complement electronic health records for clinical research:

Advantage #1: Confident identification

Failed clinical trials often stem from the inability to meet enrollment numbers, particularly when those trials have extensive and specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data-driven tools, such as VigiLanz Research, sift through EMR data in real time to identify all eligible candidates based on rules built on clinical trial eligibility criteria. This ensures clinical trial coordinators are more easily able to identify all patients who qualify, and can rest assured that no eligible candidates will be missed.

Advantage #2: Earlier enrollment

Many clinical trials are time-sensitive, such as requiring that trial enrollees receive a new drug within a specific time frame after a medical event has occurred. Once that time frame has closed, those patients no longer qualify for the trial. VigiLanz Research automatically identifies eligible patients within the hospital as soon as they become eligible, making it easier for research coordinators to enroll them in time.

Advantage #3: Efficient processes

Using VigiLanz Research to complement the EMR makes processes much more efficient for clinical research teams by providing:

  • A dynamic worklist that coordinators can use to view or modify patient eligibility status in real time
  • Automatic alerts that notify coordinators any time an eligible candidate is located within the hospital network
  • Enterprise-level reporting that coordinators and leaders can use to evaluate study performance and easily evaluate potential clinical trials

The future of clinical trial enrollment technology

VigiLanz Research enables faster identification, earlier enrollment, and efficient processes, making trials more accessible to patients and more effective for providers.

By empowering researchers to screen more qualified candidates, VigiLanz speeds up the clinical study process. For hospitals, this increases the likelihood for clinical trial enrollment success, and for sponsors, this potentially saves millions of dollars and helps get products to market faster.

Most importantly, VigiLanz connects real people with opportunities for life-changing treatments that could help them live longer, healthier lives.

To learn more about how VigiLanz helps hospitals find patients for clinical trials in real time, visit

Q&A: Sharp HealthCare’s Commitment to, and Experience With, Clinical Trials

Five questions for DeAnn Cary, PhD, Director of Research at Sharp HealthCare

Clinical trials are critical to advancing medicine and patient health but participating in them is not easy. Hospitals that serve as clinical trial sites must invest significant time and resources into the process, and one of the most time-consuming elements relates to identifying and enrolling patients in clinical trials.

While many hospitals rely on manual reviews, outdated reports, and other time-consuming methods to find the right candidates, innovative clinical trial sites are turning to new technology that makes the identification and enrollment process much more efficient.

One such organization is Sharp HealthCare, which is using VigiLanz Research to accurately and quickly identify eligible candidates for clinical trial enrollment. In this Q&A, DeAnn Cary, PhD, Director of Research at Sharp HealthCare, discusses the hospital’s approach to clinical trials and why it began using this new technology to support its research efforts.

Tell us about Sharp HealthCare and why it participates in clinical trials?

DC: Sharp HealthCare is a not-for-profit health system based in San Diego that is made up of four acute-care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, three affiliated medical groups, and a full spectrum of other facilities and services.

As a community health system, we firmly believe that it is important to offer cutting edge treatments to our patients. Clinical trials provide opportunities to access the newest treatments (e.g., drugs, devices, or procedures) that would not otherwise be available to them.

How do you choose which clinical trials to participate in and how has your overall participation in trials changed over the past few years? 

DC: When reviewing new trials, we consider several things including our existing portfolio (we typically avoid having competing trials). We also consider whether our patient population is a good fit, as well as whether we have the resources and bandwidth required to meet the requirements and timelines.

We have increased our participation and patient volume in some areas, such as Alzheimer’s. We have decreased our patient volume in other therapeutic areas, such as oncology. Study design and precision medicine has dramatically expanded the inclusion/exclusion criteria making it much harder to find patients who qualify. Precision medicine is definitely better for the patients but more challenging for the teams trying to recruit.

What methods have you historically used to recruit patients?

DC: We advertise for some studies, particularly for those which the sponsor pays for all activities associated with the study. In other therapeutic areas, in which insurance is involved (such as oncology),  it’s more challenging to advertise because not all potential patients have insurance that the clinics accept. In those instances, the recruitment process is highly manual and primarily consists of chart reviews.

How have you improved your clinical trial processes over the years?

DC: The biggest significant improvement in processes has been the use of VigiLanz Research. VigiLanz Research leverages study-specific inclusion and exclusion criteria to automatically review all patients across a hospital network. It screens the entire patient population to identify eligible patients in real time and provides automated alerts and notifications to key team members when there are eligibility matches.

Key benefits of VigiLanz Research include the real-time patient identification for studies that have a very short timeline for identification and recruitment (e.g., cardiac and stroke).

VigiLanz Research has also enabled our small staff of clinical research coordinators to feel confident that they have not missed a single qualified potential research participant. It has also enabled them to focus their time and energies on the patients who meet or nearly meet the study criteria, rather than having to manually review hundreds of patient charts.

“VigiLanz Research has also enabled our small staff of clinical research coordinators to feel confident that they have not missed a single qualified potential research participant.”
—DeAnn Cary, PhD, Director of Research at Sharp HealthCare

Do you believe VigiLanz Research will make Sharp a better candidate for future clinical trials? 

DC: Yes, and we are starting to see some of our sponsor feasibility questionnaires ask if we are using a real-time patient identification platform. As this becomes more common, having a technology like VigiLanz Research will continue to be critical, not only for our success within particular trials, but in our ability to continue participating in trials in general.

Read this case study to learn more about how Sharp is using VigiLanz Research to support clinical trial enrollment.

Related Resources: VigiLanz Research