Identifying New Ways to Increase Participation in Clinical Trials

Clare Grace headshot

Clare Grace, PhD, vice
president, Syneos Health

Improving patient and physician participation in clinical research has long been a challenge for both researchers and healthcare professionals. To provide greater access to new treatment options and improve patient health, it’s time to consider new ways to bridge clinical research and clinical healthcare. 

One tactic is to promote and propel clinical research by leveraging community engagement through social initiatives. Clare Grace, PhD, vice president of site and patient access at Syneos Health, notes that, until recently, there was only one treatment option for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and no new development in 30 years. Then, through simple messaging and viral sharing, the ALS ice bucket challenge renewed attention to the cause, raising research funds that led to the discovery of a new gene tied to ALS.

Further, listening to patients/healthcare consumers can yield behavioral insights critical for studies that are particularly difficult to recruit—such as early-stage diseases where patients do not know they are sick (for example, with mild cognitive impairment in the Alzheimer’s population). Personalized medicine protocols require such specific patients that these studies may need to apply techniques like those used to recruit for a rare-disease study, says Grace.

As an industry, we need to better educate patients and caregivers about clinical trials as an option. However, the key to patient education is physician and health system education, says Christian Burns, president of clinical operations and marketing at ClinEdge: “We need to ensure that every patient is made aware of clinical trials, but also understand when to match the right provider to the right trial at the right time.”

Medical research facilities currently conducting research can proactively educate and integrate themselves within health systems and practices. The challenge to community practitioners is to translate the benefits of clinical trials for themselves, their practices, and their overall healthcare experience. This is achievable, says Burns, by showcasing data and case studies relevant to their specialty and demonstrating a path to improvement in their patients’ clinical trial experience.

“Broadened education and heightened awareness of clinical trials as an alternative and addition to traditional healthcare practices will force resounding changes in research and healthcare,” says Burns.

Authors: Joan Chambers, Senior Strategic Advisor, and Naomi Fujimoto, Senior Copywriter, SCORR Marketing and Bridging Clinical Research & Clinical Health Care Collaborative