Pfizer, Ochsner Health team up for clinical trial innovation

The pharma company and health system are looking to create digital tools to help make clinical trials easier for patients, clinicians and researchers.
By Laura Lovett
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Looking to innovate in the research space, pharma giant Pfizer inked a deal with Ochsner Health System, a Louisiana academic healthcare system, to develop digital tools for clinical trials. The partners will be using Ochsner’s innovation lab, innovationOchsner, and Ochsner Research. 

The multi-year strategic alliance revolves around a goal of improving “access and connectivity to clinical trials for patients, with the ultimate goal of better experiences and outcomes.” Angling to reduce paperwork and make the system more user friendly, the pair will offer new digital tools to patients and clinicians. 

Why it matters

The duo said that the new tools could make clinical trials easier fo patients, providers and researchers. 

Researchers from the companies have already been able to transfer mock data from Ochsner’s EHR system to Pfizer’s electronic data capture system, which the companies said could help address interoperability problems. The digital tools that come out of the project have the potential to be an alternative to the status quo of manually entering new data for each clinical trial. 

As part of the new deal the partners are also looking at implementing FHIR standards for clinical trial data — with the goal of getting high-quality data “reliably and securely transferred to hospitals.”

What's the trend 

This isn’t the first time Pfizer has dipped its toes into the digital health waters — in fact, the company has a long history of partnerships within the space. In November the Pharma company announced that it was entering a strategic partnership with jianke.com, China's online healthcare platform. The deal revolves around implementing a patient-focused strategy in terms of retail, hospital services and internet healthcare, as well as co-creating an omnichannel retail system that combines online and offline channels. 

Ochsner has also been involved with digital health for some time. It was one of the first twelve systems to launch Apple Health Records in January of 2018. The company has also been making partnerships. In December of 2017, it inked a deal with Evidation Health to offer the consumer rewards program Evidation’s Achievement to Ochsner patients. 

On the record 

“We’re pleased that we succeeded in transferring core data types collected in healthcare provider electronic health records to Pfizer’s clinical trial data capture system using FHIR standards. To the best of our knowledge, this is a first for our industry,” Rob Goodwin, VP of Pfizer's operations center of excellence and global product development, said in a statement. “There is more work ahead, but this is a significant step forward in simplifying data capture for clinical trials, and the first of many pioneering solutions we hope to develop through our partnership with Ochsner.”

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