Montana State University (MSU) and Billings Clinic are set to partner on a new project for expanding representation and access in clinical trials.

The three-year project is aimed at improving access throughout Montana to life-saving treatments that are available through clinical trials.

Biotechnology company Genentech provided nearly $750,000 for the project, which seeks to optimise parts of Billings Clinic’s electronic health record systems for trials.

Additionally, the project will engage underserved communities to allow more people in the state receive care.

MSU Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing assistant professor Elizabeth Johnson said that the project also aims to develop high-tech record-keeping and communication systems for supporting patients in receiving trial care in Montana.

The project intends to use Billings Clinic’s branches or clinics and a network of nearly 20 critical access hospitals across Montana and Wyoming to help open clinical trials to more rural patients.

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It will also receive support from Billings Clinic’s Collaborative Science and Innovation team.

Billings Clinic CSI team research nurse scientist Jamie Besel said: “Patients deserve cutting-edge health care no matter where they live, and this research and effort helps us deliver that to even more people while ensuring that they can stay close to home for potentially life-saving care.”

“When we can bring these trials to their doorsteps, it not only opens up more access to the latest treatments but it also gives them to opportunity stay home and have the best chance of a positive outcome.”

The project will include the development and testing of the RuralIT and PowerTrials computer programmes.

RuralIT, which will be free and available for use by medical facilities, will be a training resources and programmes toolkit to provide information for new clinical trial implementation.

PowerTrials has been designed for collecting and condensing standard electronic health records alongside data and records from trials.

During the first year of the project, stakeholder groups will be established while receiving community input about needs and concerns in clinical trials.

The first year will also include integrating PowerTrials into existing health records systems.