With the touch of a few computer keys you can tell the world via platforms like Yelp that a vaunted local brew pub’s seasonal draft is flat, a hotel’s beds are lumpy, and the pricey luggage set you just purchased at a certain upscale department store looks more worn out than you after just a single journey.
As of September 27, there were 317,735 clinical research studies under way in all 50 states and in 209 countries, according to ClinicalTrials.gov. What if millions of past, current, and/or future clinical trial participants had the same easy opportunity to vent and praise their experiences as consumers of other goods and services?
Working with a team that includes former Pfizer Head of Innovation Craig Lipset as a director, Irfan Khan, MD, is hoping to make that a reality as CEO at Circuit Clinical.
In 2018, Circuit Clinical launched TrialScout, a platform designed to let past and current clinical trial participants share their experiences through ratings and reviews. It’s currently focused on 21 cities across the U.S. Patients don’t pay to enter their information—sites and others pay a fee to access it, Khan says. “They are paying to learn how to better conduct clinical trials,” he explains.
Further, Khan’s about to launch the #FindtheFive national campaign focusing on telling the stories and experiences of the estimated 5 million Americans who have participated in clinical trials over the past several years. By inspiring earlier participants to share their stories, Khan says he’s hoping to “find the next 5 million trial participants.”
“There’s a fear factor” among potential participants in clinical trials, Khan says. Some are afraid of being “guinea pigs” or somehow being given placebos without knowing it, he notes. He’s calling on the clinical trial industry to go directly to patients and do a better job explaining what clinical trials really are about: “innovations in medicine.”
While some might worry an online gathering place could become a repository of clinical trial horror stories or the Yelp equivalent of relatively trivial complaints, Khan disagrees. “Most ratings are highly positive. People want to share their observations,” he says.
That said, however, clinical trial practitioners can “learn a lot from even a single bad review,” Khan notes. “A negative rating is very impactful,” and addressing it is potentially a powerful tool for a site or other clinical trial professional to improve their quality of service, he adds.
Author: Michael Causey