Alphastudy clinical research platform released

A knowledge creation, management and dissemination platform specifically designed for the healthcare industry has been released.

Dubbed Alphastudy, the system was developed by David Dinh who built the foundations of the platform to assist him with his work with the Asthma Clinical Assessment Form and Electronic decision support (ACAFE) research project. This project was formally recognised last year with the researchers receiving a Don Walker award at HISA’s 2008 Health Informatics Conference (HIC’08).

After the completion of the ACAFE research project, Mr Dinh generalised the Alphastudy platform for wider consumption. Discussing Alphastudy’s potential impact in healthcare, Mr Dinh said: “Alphastudy captures the essence of ‘wisdom of the crowd’ where sharing and dissemination of knowledge is accelerated via the engagement of participants. Users and consumers are increasingly looking for higher quality material on the web which they can reference or participate in. By creating a medium of expert communities and the right tools, researchers will be able to quickly conduct studies and release them faster to the wider public.”

In its current form, Alphastudy enables users to create “online workspace sites”, which unifies a set of research tools designed to enhance communication and make research faster and more efficient. Functionality includes tools for data collection such as surveys and quizzes, training and development resources, as well as document repositories and discussion forums.

Alphastudy allows clinicians to setup and host data collection forms, testing modules are also included with the ability for users to feature a variety of multimedia content (pictures, MP3, Videos), text and links to other web-based material. Users are able to create discussion forums and leverage the personal file storage repository for the sharing of presentations, images, audio, and other project files. These features have enabled clinicians to conduct a wide variety of research, ranging from quality assurance studies, surveys and article reviews, up to major scientific studies and healthcare projects.

Web-based, the Alphastudy platform has been designed to accommodate multiple projects, each with their own user communities. The developers have also created a standalone solution for institutions wishing to deploy in-house instances of Alphastudy. These instances can be rebranded and run locally across an organisation’s intranet.

Access to Alphastudy workspaces is governed by username and password, allowing authorised users to access the system from any computer with an Internet connection. Each workspace’s security settings are configurable allowing public users to join, or access to be restricted.

Alphastudy was first deployed in a clinical pilot study in December 2008, underwent further development iteration in January 2009 and subsequently went live in March 2009 for use by clinicians both in the hospital and other environments.

Early adopters of Alphastudy include a major Sydney trauma and emergency training department, which is using the platform to assist with clinical training, evaluate and assess new treatment regimes’ relevance to clinical practice, and identify key performance improvement areas through regular “quick” clinical studies. Senior clinicians are also able to assist junior staff by using Alphastudy to disseminate expert knowledge. For example, students are mentored by senior clinicians on patient case studies, journal discussions and exam preparation questions.

Dr Clare Richmond, an emergency clinician from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, is using Alphastudy as part of a study being conducted with the Australian Commission on Quality Safety in Health Care National Clinical Handover Project. As part of the WHOs “High 5 on Patient Safety”, data collected using Alphastudy has been used to collate information regarding previously unidentified issues, improve patient satisfaction through the effective use of senior clinicians, identify missed clinical signs and ensure observations are documented and variation identified.

Dr Richmond said: “Our study aims to look at ways of improving patient safety. Alphastudy contains a powerful set of tools allowing me to manage the data for statistical analysis so much faster and easier”.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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