Take the blue pill or red pill? How the electronic medical record could save the clinical trial, cut health care costs, and improve the value of research.

My colleague James Flory and I just published this essay on Science Progress' blog. It develops the concept of the PORT trial, an idea we published in an article in the American Journal of Public Health.

PORT stands for "Prompted Optional Randomization Trial." What's that? It's a clever way to exploit the electronic medical record as a research tool. When a doctor prescribes a medication, the matrix of the EMR decides randomly whether to fill that order or suggest another, potentially equivalent pill for that patient.

Multiply this over hundreds of patients and we have the data of a large randomized trial, what some call a "comparative effectiveness trial," and we have these data from a trial done at low cost and in the real world of clinical practice.

Read more at Science Progress - where science, technology and policy meet.