Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has intensified its foray into the digital technology field by launching an app which assists in collecting data from people taking part in studies involving eye diseases. Novartis is using the ResearchKit tool of Apple for its FocalView app aimed at assisting researchers in tracking the progression of ophthalmic diseases by collecting the data directly from the patients without having them meet a doctor personally.
In so doing the app may bring down barriers that prevent patients from participating in studies and this could enhance the understanding researchers have of ophthalmic diseases. Consequently this could assist in increasing the number of novel treatments.
The capturing of data in ophthalmic clinical studies tends to be infrequent and inflexible and this makes it hard for researchers to effectively monitor the disease activity of patients and capture the real-world experiences of these patients. With FocalView patients will be required to complete a variety of assessments and this will offer feedback on visual functions including changes that may occur in the course of time. It is thus expected that the mobile app will offer researchers more data than they have previously been able to obtain and this will consequently lead to the creation of more accessible and flexible clinical trial designs.
“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,” FocalView’s medical advisor, Mark Bullimore, said.
In order to evaluate the usability and efficacy of the app, FocalView will undergo testing in a non-interventional prospective study. Some of the measurements that will be taken include contrast sensitivity and visual acuity. Additionally level of enrolment, ease of use as well as effectiveness of the app in obtaining important documentation required for clinical trials in the future will also be assessed by the researchers. The app will also be validated in the next stage against the traditional visual testing techniques which occur with conventional settings.
Initially the app will be available for downloading in the United States for users of iOS devices. Prior to a user interacting with the app consent will be required to contribute research data. Plans are underway to have the app launched in other markets in future. The ResearchKit of app is an open-source tool developed Apple to offer scientists a novel way of gathering information from patients via their iPhones.