Pieces & NRG Oncology to identify participants for clinical trial

NRG’S FORTE study will leverage Pieces’ AI and Natural Language Processing technologies to modernize the clinical trial process by automating the search for eligible patients

Pieces, a healthcare AI company, has been chosen as the technology partner for NRG Oncology’s FORTE study to accelerate the identification of participants eligible for a major clinical trial. Pieces will employ Pieces Predict, an analytics engine utilizing Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to extract approved data from clinical notes and records to help identify participants who might qualify for the study. This AI-driven strategy is more efficient than traditional patient identification methods which are often manual, time-consuming, and costly for clinical trial sites.

The primary objective of the study is to determine when people who had 1 or 2 small benign polyps removed during colonoscopy should have their repeat colonoscopy exam. The study is expected to enroll 9,500 participants, which requires finding and engaging a sufficient number of eligible participants from sites across the country. Pieces’ technology enables FORTE study sites to quickly identify participants with specific clinical and non-clinical inclusion and exclusion characteristics, through different electronic file formats at scale.

“We believe that NLP can save hundreds – potentially thousands – of hours per study site.” says Robert E. Schoen, MD, MPH, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Principal Investigator for FORTE. “This time saved allows FORTE sites to increase recruitment efforts and continue to build their FORTE referral networks, and also make the overall study more likely to hit its participant recruitment goals.”  

Participant recruitment is a key determinant in clinical trial success. However, as many as 86% of clinical trials do not meet recruitment goals within their proposed time periods. Pieces Predict will expedite this process by “reading” through hundreds of thousands of colonoscopy notes in a secure manner at selected study sites in order to identify participants who have a high probability of meeting the study eligibility criteria.

“Pieces is providing a turn-key solution for the national study, including handling all administrative, operational, and technical aspects of partnering with select study sites on behalf of NRG Oncology for the NLP component of this work,” said Ruben Amarasingham, MD, Founder and CEO, Pieces. “As a mission-driven healthcare AI firm, we are incredibly excited to work with NRG Oncology and the select study sites to help advance colorectal cancer research and science that may help save lives.”

The NCI Division of Cancer Prevention leads the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). NCORP is a national network of investigators and cancer care providers that conduct multisite cancer clinical trials in prevention, screening, symptom management, and cancer care delivery. FORTE is being conducted through NCORP, in conjunction with members of the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). The trial is being led by NRG Oncology with the participation of other network organizations: Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, and SWOG.

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