NHS Cancer Alliance to use AI to improve clinical trial access for South West patients

Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance (SWAG) are partnering with Inspirata, a cancer informatics and digital pathology provider, with an aim to accelerate the process where patients with cancer in the area are identified and matched with relevant clinical trials.

The partnership will implement Inspirata’s Trial NavigatorTM software at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), as part of the alliance’s wider aim to improve clinical trial access.

The technology utilises oncology-specific natural language processing to support the ‘trial matching workflow’, and provides the ability to search individual medical reports, notes and referral letters of patients. It abstracts key information about their disease and automatically cross-references attributes identified against study eligibility criteria held within clinical trial databases. The software then surfaces studies ‘most likely to represent a patient-fit for clinical evaluation’.

Dr Helen Winter, Clinical Director of SWAG Cancer Alliance, commented: “We hope that this solution will afford both clinicians and patients in the region a greater choice of potential treatment options. Similarly, expedite the fulfilment of existing, and the hosting of clinical trials as we look to recover services affected by the pandemic.

“Recent evidence points to a myriad of factors contributing to the under-representation of different groups in cancer studies. This can include pressures on healthcare professionals’ workload. The implementation of Trial Navigator is designed to help our care teams extend access to cancer research to everyone within our community wishing to take advantage.”

Dr Axel Walther, Clinical Trials Unit Lead at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre UHBW, added: “Clinical trials are an integral part of the optimal management of cancer patients but having a complete and up-to-date picture of the ever-changing landscape can be time consuming. Working with Inspirata to automate this aspect of the oncology workflow means our clinical teams can spend more time with patients evaluating potential trial options to best suit them. More patients will be able to take part in trials relevant to their cancer, increasing treatment options and driving innovation.”