Can We Find Ways to Make Physicians Better Trial Advocates?

Doctor Recommendations Among Most Effective Ways to Encourage Trial Participation

Doctor Recommendations Among Most Effective Ways to Encourage Trial Participation

Studies consistently show that doctor recommendations are one of the most effective ways to encourage patients to explore clinical trials. “Unfortunately, it’s not used as much as it could be,” said Murray Abramson, MD, vice president of global clinical operations at Biogen. “It’s a genuine opportunity,” he told attendees of the Clinical Trial Collaborations conference in Cambridge, Mass., today (April 11) during a panel discussion.

One challenge: Providers who advocate clinical trials feel like they lose control of their patient, said fellow panelist Jeff James, CEO of Wilmington Health.

That’s partially because some physicians aren’t educated about trials, Abramson said. This results in misinformation about such details as the consequences of being in a trial and the expectations when it comes to results. Finding that kind of information isn’t necessarily easy. For example, is not a user-friendly resource and it “doesn’t make connections very well,” Abramson noted.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all diseases are as promising when it comes to using clinical trials as a care option. For example, “oncology has done better a job bringing people into trials, and cardiology is getting better,” Abramson said. However, in neurology there are many situations where proven therapies simply don’t exist yet (e.g., Alzheimer’s and ALS). “When that diagnosis is made, the next step for patient and family [should be] to find the best avenue, [such as a clinical trial], but we’re not there yet. It’s incredible that we’re still confronting this issue in 2018, just as we did in 2008.”

Industry needs to find ways to bring physicians and clinical trial practitioners together, James said. “We need commitment from leadership on the physician side,” he said. In addition, industry must present a more effective case for clinical research to institutions’ chief financial officers. “Until we can find ways to demonstrate value,” it’s not going to move forward with any speed, James explained.

Coupled with using clinical trials as a care option, patient-centered health initiatives present a significant means to “add value to the patient and professional fulfillment to the physician,” suggested Katherine Vandebelt, chief ecosystem officer for Reify Health, Inc.

The next step is to convince both “sides” of the clinical trial ecosystem, panelists agreed.

Author: Michael Causey