Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Open source tools for clinical research in a diabetes clinic

by Iztok Štotl (University Medical Centre Ljubljana ), Peter Beck (JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH)

Wednesday, 22.05.2013, New York II, 17:30-18:00 Uhr

Open source tools can be very helpful in organizing clinical research in medicine and in facilitating professional collaboration between researchers. Author will present his own practical experiences in implementing open source software in diabetes clinic at University Clinical Center in Ljubljana, together with technical overview of some of the solutions. The clinic uses their own Linux/KVM server for hosting application servers. Open source CMS, DMS, collaboration and wiki solutions are used for information and knowledge exchange on local and national level. They are also trying to implement open source course management system for patient and student education.

Implementing clinical trial software creates opportunities for automated multidisciplinary collaboration. They are currently using two open source solutions for clinical research: OpenClinica and REDCap software. Research electronic data capture (REDCap) is a novel workflow methodology and software solution based on LAMP architecture, designed for rapid development and deployment of electronic data capture tools to support clinical research. International REDCap consortium is comprised of over 500 institutional partners. OpenClinica is an open source clinical trials software for electronic data capture (EDC) and clinical data management (CDM) based on J2EE architecture. Both projects have very active communities of developers and clinicians, documentation and support is excellent. Deployment and use is getting easier with every new version. Clinical research software can be used by different medical professionals and also other researchers (sociology, psychology, epidemiology, IT, etc. or by any other scientific group that wants to collect data).

Diabetes clinic in Ljubljana is also an active member of public health project in the field of diabetes - "EUropean Best Information through Regional Outcomes in Diabetes" (EUBIROD). One of the main results of this project is “The BIRO System”, which is a suite of integrated software tools including a database engine, statistical and central engine, and communication software. All software is distributed in a single bundle including a complete operating system running under a Linux Ubuntu Virtual Machine: BIROX. The system is using open source licence.

Use of open source development model allows easier debugging, feature additions and customization of software for special needs. Availability of the code helps with transparency of patient data manipulation. Clinical research software also incorporates some important legal issues that have to be solved when conducting a clinical trial. All described solutions are free as in beer, so researchers can get access to those useful technologies, that could otherwise be very expensive and unaffordable to small departments. Small medical research institutions can gain a lot with using open source research and collaboration tools, even if used only on user basis, because the described solutions have become very stable and mature with time.

Presentation is suitable for broad audience, it isn't diabetes specific.

About the author Iztok Štotl:

Iztok Štotl is a medical doctor working in Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at the University Medical Centre Ljubljana in Slovenia. He works in metabolic intensive care unit specialized for hyperglycaemic crises in adult patients and also in outpatient diabetes clinic. He is a member of clinical group for bariatric surgery in University Medical Centre Ljubljana. His main medical fields of interest are: critical limb ischemia in diabetic patients, prediabetes, prediction and prevention of diabetes, bariatric surgery, obesity and metabolism. He is the author of Slovenian clinical guidelines for management of patients with high risk for developing diabetes.

He is also a Linux user, that tries to implement Linux and other open source solutions in his research and everyday medical work, and to facilitate collaboration within his professional community. He is a system administrator of research servers in his clinic and actively uses open source solutions for conducting clinical research and his clinic. He is current coordinator of The Slovene Working Group for informatics in diabetes and active member of European public health project - "EUropean Best Information through Regional Outcomes in diabetes" (EUBIROD).

About the author Peter Beck:

Studied Telematics at Graz University of Technology, wrote a PhD about Information Systems in Chronic Disease Management
Currently Head of Research Group eHealth and Health Sciences