Novartis launches research app for ophthalmic clinical trials

By Dave Muoio

Novartis announced yesterday that it has launched an app specifically designed for eye patients to participate in ophthalmic clinical trials.

Built with ResearchKit, the FocalView app looks to improve data captured by allowing patients interested in participating to conveniently self-report their conditions through their smartphone, thereby providing researchers with a greater wealth of time-stamped data.

"Because patients with eye diseases are often not as mobile, FocalView has the potential to offer tremendous benefit for the ophthalmic community and for researchers looking to develop better treatments for these patients," Dr. Mark Bullimore, dean of the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University and the medical advisor for FocalView, said in a statement. "Collating validated patient-reported outcomes in clinical trial research is no longer a nice-to-have. This kind of data is fast becoming a critical element of research and development, because it offers a better reflection of real-world patient experiences, fosters better patient compliance, and provides researchers with richer and more accurate data points.”

Novartis also announced plans to test drive the app in an upcoming non-interventional study. In it, researchers will gauge how effective the tool is for collecting measurements of visual function, such as visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. The team will also examine the app’s feasibility for use in clinical trials, including an investigation of its ease of use, patient enrollment levels, and ability to collect necessary documentation.

Subsequent studies of the app will compare the tool’s performance against more traditional visual testing.

"Optimizing digital technology in research and development, particularly in ophthalmic disease, could have a marked impact on the quality of the data we capture," Bertrand Bodson, Novartis chief digital officer, said in a statement. "We believe apps like FocalView, which we've made freely available to the research community on an open-source platform, can help accelerate the development of treatments and bring them to the patients who need them most.”

The app is currently available for download from the App store in the US, and Novartis said in a statement that it has plans for future launches in additional markets.