Clinical trial recruitment is a major challenge in biomedical research. Nearly 80 percent of clinical trials fall short of enrollment timelines, and recruiting patients is costly. But Patient Gateway, an online portal accessed by more than 500,000 patients, offers an opportunity to overcome this challenge.

Joshua Di Frances, Strategy and Innovation project manager for the Innovation Hub and Brigham Research Institute; Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, chief, BWH Section of Clinical Sciences in Rheumatology; and Joel Weissman, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Center for Surgery and Public Health, have been working to develop a mechanism that will easily allow patients to find out about and enroll in clinical trials through Patient Gateway. Known as Partners HealthCare HOPE (Health Online for Patient Enrichment), the new tool will enable patients to see all current IRB-approved research studies in relevant health areas, request to participate in them and receive health information specific to those areas.

Patients will be able to access HOPE through a Quicklink on the Patient Gateway homepage and select “I’m interested” to learn more about specific research studies and access information about certain conditions.

Solomon described the advantages that HOPE will provide for both patients and clinical investigators, allowing patients to find research studies that interest them and meet their needs, and allowing clinical investigators to reach out directly to patient interested in participating in studies.

“Researchers need better ways to find interested patients and patients need better ways to find relevant trials. HOPE begins to tackle these issues,” he said.

Weissman noted that the long-term vision for HOPE is to have an easily accessible, patient-centered approach to enrollment in health research studies.

“We believe that HOPE is a win-win for investigators, patients and their doctors,” said Weissman. “By allowing patients the opportunity to seek out trials on their own that are meaningful for them, it reduces recruitment costs, it’s more patient-centric and it relieves some of the burden of the patient’s usual care giver.”

HOPE will begin with research studies in four focused health areas: arthritis, cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes, a list that will expand in the coming year. An initial roll out is planned for early spring. Clinical investigators are encouraged to add their trials on the HOPE platform by submitting their protocols here. They can also contact Joshua Di Frances with any questions.