May 17, 2020

Novartis launches new app, built with Apple’s ResearchKit

Technology
Novartis
Innovation
Novartis
Catherine Sturman
2 min
social media (Getty Images)
Novartis has launched its FocalView app, an ophthalmic digital research platform created with Apple’s ResearchKit.

The app aims to allow researchers...

Novartis has launched its FocalView app, an ophthalmic digital research platform created with Apple’s ResearchKit.

The app aims to allow researchers to track disease progression by collecting real-time, self-reported data directly from consenting patients. By adapting the design of clinical trials to suit the daily routine of patients, the app may reduce barriers to participation, leading to a more nuanced understanding of ophthalmic diseases and potentially accelerating the development of novel treatments.

Data capture in traditional ophthalmic clinical trials can be inflexible and infrequent, leading to increased difficulties for researchers to monitor patients' disease activity and capture real-world patient experiences. The app will therefore aim to support patients complete various assessments, gain vital feedback on their visual functions, including any changes over time. At the same time, the app could provide researchers with a greater volume of real-world, patient-reported data, creating more flexible and accessible 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," said Dr. Mark Bullimore, Medical Advisor for the creation of FocalView and Dean of the Southern California College of Optometry, Marshall B. Ketchum University.

"This kind of data is fast becoming a critical element of research and development, because it offers a better reflection of real-world patient experiences, fosters better patient compliance and provides researchers with richer and more accurate data points."

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FocalView will be tested in a prospective, non-interventional study to evaluate the app's efficacy and usability in assessing visual function. These measurements include visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Researchers will in turn assess ease of use, level of enrolment and the ability to obtain important documentation for future clinical trial research, such as informed consent.

In the next phase, the app will be validated against traditional visual testing that takes place within conventional clinical settings.

"Optimizing digital technology in research and development, particularly in ophthalmic disease, could have a marked impact on the quality of the data we capture," commented Bertrand Bodson, Novartis Chief Digital Officer.

"We believe apps like FocalView, which we've made freely available to the research community on an open-source platform, can help accelerate the development of treatments and bring them to the patients who need them most."

The move follows on from its $8.7bn acquisition of AveXis Inc to become a key player within gene therapy and support its ambition to become a leader in neurodegenerative diseases.

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Jul 23, 2021

Microsoft launches Tech for Social Impact for elderly care

elderlycare
Microsoft
Technology
healthcare
2 min
Microsoft launches Tech for Social Impact for elderly care
Microsoft's programme will make innovative tech accessible to non profits in the elderly care sector around the world

Microsoft Tech for Social Impact, the tech giant's division offering tools for non profit organisations, has announced it is expanding to include aged care non profits around the world. 

This means that non profit organisations helping elderly residents in nursing homes or with other daily support will now be eligible for technology grants and discounts of up to 75%, as well as training and capacity building to help with digital transformation. 

The care home sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society. As a result organisations around the world have been deploying innovative technologies, such as IoT to create monitoring solutions that enable independent living, through to AI-driven robots that provide companionship as well as alert the user's care team if there are any changes to their symptoms. 

The German Red Cross (DRK) is an early adopter that is already benefitting from this programme expansion as part of Microsoft Tech for Social's pilot scheme.  DRK provides services and assistance to over 40,000 people at more than 500 aged care facilities in Germany, with a further 90,000 receiving care in their own homes. 

Thanks to Microsoft 365 cloud technologies such as SharePoint and OneDrive, along with Teams for communication, DRK was able to continue its daily work even at the height of the pandemic crisis. Residents of DRK facilities used Teams to keep in touch with relatives despite restrictions to visits, and there are plans to continue using these channels in the future to prevent isolation among residents. 

Following the pilot’s success, the programme will offer discounts and grants to eligible organisations for its Microsoft cloud stack including Business Applications, Azure and Modern Work,  leveraging the firm's sector-specific tools with Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit which will be generally available in the second half of 2021.

Microsoft estimate that around 75,000 new non profit organisations around the world will be eligible for the programme. 

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