Education, Convenience Key to Expanding Clinical Trial Patient Diversity

photo of Tyler Pugsley

Tyler Pugsley, Senior Vice President for Consumer and New Markets, Medable

Despite some encouraging signs, improving diversity in the clinical trial patient population has remained a stubborn problem for the clinical trial industry. For example, while Phesi recently published data showing that Black and African American patients have become somewhat better represented in clinical trials over the past decade, the same cannot be said for several other groups, including Asian, Hispanic, and Latino populations.

“We need to demystify clinical research” for the general public, says Tyler Pugsley, senior vice president for consumer and new markets at Medable. He’s an advocate of campaigns designed to help the average citizen better understand the safety and value of clinical trials.

“Our goal should be to create initial acceptance and awareness of clinical trials,” Pugsley says. He wants to inspire wider participation in part by reminding people that participating in “clinical trials [is] one of the best things you can do for humanity.”

The general population is hesitant to join clinical trials due to fear of being in a scientific experiment and lack of confidence in the notion that trial practitioners have patient safety as their top priority, Pugsley says. “We must increase awareness upstream” about the positive elements of clinical trials, he says.

Like recycling and addressing climate change, clinical trials promote the common good, Pugsley says. “Without clinical trials, medicines don’t get approved,” he notes.

In addition to better educational efforts, Pugsley believes that leveraging aspects of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) will expand the reach of researchers to traditionally underserved patients.

Partnerships, such as a new one between Medable and Vault Health, will “help make clinical trials more accessible for people in terms of scheduling and geography,” Pugsley says.

Last week, the two firms announced they were teaming up to integrate Vault’s expertise in diagnostics, logistics, and remote care services with Medable’s end-to-end software platform for DCTs. The partnership builds on a shared commitment to bring trials closer to patients via remote monitoring and high-touch patient services—helping make clinical trials more inclusive and accessible, and ultimately enabling new therapies to come to market faster, the companies said in a press release.

The partnership will combine Medable’s software-as-a-service platform with Vault’s tech-enabled operational capabilities to provide a unified experience for patients, sites, and clinical trial sponsors. It will enable sponsors to offer Vault home testing and diagnostics, home healthcare visits and televisits, virtual site capabilities, and related logistics, scheduling, and status tracking—all easily accessed via Medable’s dedicated applications for patients and sites.

“I believe aspects of DCTs are applicable to every study,” Pugsley says, while stressing brick and mortar sites and in-person trial operations will remain critically important as ways to give patients the widest possible array of choices in clinical trials.

Author: Michael Causey