‘Ideathon’ Confronts Stubborn Clinical Trial Enrollment Woes

CGrace 2015

Clare Grace, vice president for site and patient access with INC Research in the United Kingdom

In support of Clinical Trials Day last May, INC Research and the nonprofit Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) announced the Inspiring Hope Ideathon, a new “crowdsolving” event coming in late September and designed to promote greater awareness and encourage participation in clinical trials. To get an update, ACRP spoke with Clare Grace, vice president for site and patient access with INC Research in the United Kingdom.

ACRP: Can you briefly describe what the Inspiring Hope Ideathon is?

Clare Grace: The goal is to build a community of problem-solving advocates to present creative ideas that are feasible and sustainable, and that create a long-term impact in the broader clinical research community. Healthcare professionals and leaders from across the industry are encouraged to generate new and unique ways to help raise awareness of clinical trials and study participation.

A key challenge for sites is enrolling patients. The first step toward any enrollment discussion is simply making patients aware of the role that clinical trials play in the development of new medicines. We think honing in on a personal connection to the research is integral for participation to increase.

Together, INC and CISCRP want to build momentum and stimulate more active engagement within the clinical research community.

ACRP: How is this project different from other efforts by sponsors and advocacy groups to promote clinical trial awareness?

CG: The Ideathon is a new style of event that involves rapidly solving a problem with a large group of people in an innovative and competitive style. These types of events are utilized quite extensively in the technology industries and amongst entrepreneurial groups, but they haven’t been used very widely to solve challenges in clinical research.

We believe that by taking a more hands-on approach and inviting everyone to the table, we can develop a more realistic notion for change than other clinical trial awareness campaigns—and hopefully that change will stick. CISCRP’s research has demonstrated that…[helping] the public and patient communities become more aware of their role in the [research] process, combined with making the experience more positive for them, will be a large improvement. I think patients want to feel as though they are active partners in the process.

ACRP: How is the Ideathon being promoted, and who is the main targeted audience for idea submissions? Patients or professionals, or both…?

CG: We’re hoping that a broad pool of stakeholders will participate. The more diverse, the better. The hope is to encourage people who may not necessarily vocalize their ideas regularly, but who have a lot of them, to speak up and to form teams and to mobilize those ideas. The better we are at reaching out to a broader audience, the better we will be at actually having a really accurate, tangible collection of ideas that may move the needle, ultimately improving clinical research literacy overall.

We are promoting the campaign in various ways. We have a short video on our website currently that explains what the Ideathon is, plus other content on the website. We are also promoting the event via social media using the #ideas4patients hashtag and via direct e-mail messages.

ACRP: How active have things been in the idea submission process so far? What comes next?

CG: We’re pleasantly surprised and excited by the diverse range of contributors involved so far. We have submissions coming in from pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, communications and technology vendors, sites, patient agencies, and academic institutions. Our hope is that this collection of ideas will inspire all of us to think more openly, more broadly, more creatively about things that we can do to raise awareness for clinical trials.

To research professionals who see this blog, we’d like to encourage your participation in the Ideathon as well by submitting your ideas, signing on to become a mentor, and spreading the word using your networks and expertise to educate those around you about the importance of clinical research. The main reason patients don’t participate is a lack of awareness of what clinical trials are, how they fit into the drug development process, and where they take place. Many physicians are not looped into the research process, so when patients do speak with their physicians (the most likely person in their lives they would speak to regarding these matters), they’re often unaware of trials available to patients in their areas.

Once the Ideathon submission process closes on August 8, entries will be evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges to determine a shortlist of finalists. These finalists will then be invited beginning August 15 to further develop and present their ideas at the Inspiring Hope Ideathon event itself, which takes place September 27–28 at District Hall in Boston, Mass.

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