Over a year ago, on February 4, 2016, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) launched the second phase of the Clinical Trial Innovation Prize, an international two-part, $180,000 crowdsourcing challenge that sought innovative ways to increase cancer patient enrollment in clinical trials. The US-based organization ALCF is one of the largest philanthropies devoted to end cancer. Through the crowdsourcing challenge site, HeroX, they launched the "Clinical Trials Innovation" a two-part competition to bring about attention to and a solution for the low patient participation rate in cancer treatment clinical trials.
A Revolutionary Approach to Charitable Funding
In running this competition with HeroX, ALCF has pioneered a whole new way forward in charitable funding for research. Here are some key ways they’ve done so:
- Utilizing crowdsourcing, ALCF was able to tap a vast pool of people from varying backgrounds and expertise all over the world. As a result, they are now funding a team all the way from Australia!
- Funding dispersed after a viable, proven, and scalable solution was identified, as opposed to the standard of paying upfront with no guarantees for success -- reassuring to donors knowing that their contributions have direct impact on the issue they care about.
- Establishment of a novel process of mentoring finalists in a unique funding scenario, wherein a select few teams were given careful guidance and access to resources via ALCF. These resources included networks of experts, access to publicity, and direct contacts that would aid in testing and implementation of their ideas.
And now, the most exciting announcement yet - the winners of Phase Two of Clinical Trials Innovation Prize.
SamirHousri and theMedNet.org
This solution was a strategy to use theMedNet.org, a social network for physicians, to target information about clinical trials to physicians in an engaging way. Winner Samir Housri in his own words: “With 78% of patients saying doctors are the most trusted source of information about clinical trials, but only 14% of doctors ever discussing trials with patients, it was clear to us that improving physician awareness around trials on theMednet.org could have the most impact on driving enrollment. theMednet.org is Q&A platform for doctors and a natural place to promote trials...the doctors asking questions have patients, and the doctors answering questions run trials. "
Team ClinTrial Refer
ClinTrial Refer was an app developed by a team from Australia that sought to address transparency and communication between the groups performing clinical trials and pools of potential patients. According to team members Judith Trotman and Roslyn Ristuccia:
“We found that the main barrier was knowledge management. How do doctors find out what trials are available, and where they are?
Our team at ClinTrial Refer came up with a solution that works across cancers, and geographical areas. We enable networks of trial units to contribute current and comprehensive listing about recruiting trials, and put it into a mobile app, which is free to download and becomes the clinician’s best resource. We were told that doctors would not refer patients to other hospitals, and we were told that patients would not travel. In fact - they will, and they do. The main barrier is doctors knowing where and how to refer patients. Now they can look it up within seconds, during a consultation visit. Patients can gather the knowledge they need for decisions on all available treatment options at www.clintrial.org.au.”
The two winners will take home a total of $150,000 in prizes for their accomplishments, but that’s just the beginning. With the launch of these new efforts, there is sure to be a positive impact on clinical trial research for many years to come. It goes to show that when you trust the crowd, any breakthrough is possible!