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TransCelerate Launches “One Person Closer” Campaign To Inspire Clinical Trial Participation



By Benjamin Ross

February 23, 2018 | TransCelerate has launched a campaign to inspire healthcare professionals (HCPs) to believe in the positive value of clinical research for their patients and share with them the potential and possibilities of participating in clinical trials. The campaign, “One Person Closer,” is taking a direct approach, using social media and video vignettes to share the personal stories of researchers, HCPs, and patients who have contributed to clinical research.

The campaign reflects a shift in the clinical trial industry’s mindset in how it manages patient engagement.

One Person Closer began when Gilles Frydman, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Smart Patients, approached TransCelerate with the idea of putting a human face on clinical trials.

“I’d been thinking about this for quite a while because I’ve been dismayed to say the least about the complete dehumanization of medicine and of the clinical research enterprise,” Frydman said when speaking with Clinical Informatics News. He says nobody stops to think that behind the amazing treatments that are being developed you have real human beings designing molecules, applying those molecules to a disease they’re experts in, and considering the patients who take a big chance to participate in clinical trials, or even those that don’t.

According to TransCelerate, patients often want to speak with a trusted advisor, such as their regular HCP, before determining if enrolling in a clinical trial is right for them. Unfortunately, clinical trials are often not a topic of conversation between HCPs and patients outside of the research setting.

The non-profit organization says that 20% of clinical trial investigator sites never enroll a single patient. TransCelerate says this percentage is far too high, especially when considering that more than 58 million people are needed to meet the demand of all enrolling studies on ClinicalTrials.gov.

This untapped pool of participants is something Joe Kim, Senior Advisor of Clinical Innovation at Eli Lilly and Company, says has not so much to do with challenging protocols as it does with a lack of engagement with patients.

“Even if a protocol was simplified enough, not enough people are aware of research and are able to understand how to access it,” Kim said in an email interview with Clinical Informatics News. “While ClinicalTrials.gov represents a registry of research opportunities, it’s not built to connect patients to research directly. Clarity, accuracy, and transparency are the foundation.”

Dalvir Gill, CEO of TransCelerate, told Clinical Informatics News in another email interview that he sees One Person Closer as a grassroots movement, relying on the “strength in numbers” of TransCelerate’s membership to get the word out. Kim agreed with Gill, adding that the power of the campaign is in its use of digital media.

“The beauty of digital media is that content promotion is democratized. Each piece of content is purpose built for social media and the internet, making it very easy to share and amplify,” Kim said. “And because this content is authentic and human, amplifying this content is much more natural for people to do. In the end we are relying on anyone and everyone to promote this.”

While “anyone and everyone” are welcome to promote, the target audience are the HCPs themselves, Gill says.

“As HCPs are trusted advisors to patients, their awareness and appreciation of clinical research is key to a patient’s awareness and interest,” said Gill. “We hope that this campaign will inspire physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and other [HCPs] to discuss clinical research as a potential option with their patients when appropriate.”

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The campaign’s goal is that, by putting a human face on clinical research and development. These faces include physicians and researchers such as Alice Shaw, a Thoracic Oncologist at Mass General Hospital Cancer Center, and Tyler Jacks, Professor of Biology and Director of the Koch Institute at MIT, as well as patients like Kylie Mayer, a Cystic Fibrosis patient.

Frydman was responsible for developing each of the 12 vignettes that were released February 1. Aside from holding a degree in animal biology, Frydman is also a renowned artist and he took full control over arranging the vignettes and gathering the physicians, researchers, and patients together.

Gill says that the parameters for the videos were that they should feature compelling stories of involvement in trials that resulted in medical breakthroughs; that the focus of the videos be on disease areas that much of the public would be familiar with or could relate to, such as cancer; and that the compilation of vignettes tell the story through the lens of bench to bedside: the scientist, the physician, and the patient.

For now, raising awareness and promoting unity are the campaign’s main goals, something Kim believes should be the motivation for the industry as a whole.

“I think nearly everyone can be united around the vision that new and better medicines are needed to fight the remaining life altering diseases,” said Kim. “And we need to do this quickly. Research is the only way new medicines can be developed.”

“This campaign can motivate conversation between people using something many people can get behind: the personal stories of very brave and very passionate people who have been part of clinical research leading to breakthrough medical advancements,” said Gill.

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