Circuit Clinical and ePatientFinder are partnering to address a longstanding challenge in clinical trial research: expanding the pool of qualified patients. The agreement between the two companies will create one of the largest clinical research site networks in the U.S., serving more than 200 sites.
The partnership relies on the most personal of relationships, according to the CEOs of both companies—that between a patient and their doctor.
“We’re going to tap into a new pool of patients who have never had the opportunity to participate [in a clinical trial] ... and this partnership will create one of the biggest site networks,” Tom Dorsett, CEO at ePatientFinder, told CenterWatch. “Our premise is patients are more comfortable working with their own doctor.”
He explained that patients are more likely to participate and remain compliant in clinical research trials, completing functions such as keeping journals, if they are doing so within the normal routine of their care. That means with their own physician with whom they already have an established relationship.
According to Dorsett, ePatientFinder works with electronic medical records vendors as the basis for their network electronic health record (EMR) to find qualified patients and send “laser-focus” alerts to their attending physicians that the patient qualifies for a trial. The company said it offers a secure, patient-centric technology platform. Physicians and clinical trial sites are able to compliantly leverage electronic health record (EHR) data to make it actionable.
“This partnership addresses the biggest pain point in clinical research,” Irfan Khan, M.D., FACC, FHRS, founder and chief strategy officer at Circuit Clinical, told CenterWatch. “Our technologies are complementary, and this is a really good fit ... to help engage all the patients who want to participate but don’t have access.”
According to Circuit Clinical, 50% of studies fail to reach an adequate level of enrollment, although Dorsett said this number is probably much higher. Further, Circuit Clinical noted that 25% of participants will drop out of a clinical trial. All this creates delays which adds tens of millions in trial costs and delays the delivery of new drug therapies to patients.
“The current process favors sites that have done clinical trials research before, which pools less than 5% of [eligible] patients,” said Dr. Khan.
According to the Circuit Clinical website, Dr. Khan, an EP cardiologist, founded the company because he was frustrated with the inefficiency and lack of respect for patients, nurses and doctors. The company relies on a proprietary practice-based clinical site EHR query network to link physicians and patients with qualifying clinical trials.
The partnership between Circuit Clinical and ePatientFinder is another in a recent trend to find new efficiencies in clinical trial research patient recruiting. As reported by CenterWatch, this includes the Synexus acquisition of Research Across America in March 2016; the Bioclinica acquisition of Compass Research in August 2016; and the subsequent Synexus merger with Radiant in May 2017.
“There was an expansion in this area, and now we’re seeing a contraction ... to improve pharma access to patient sources,” explained Dorsett. “The problem is that most recruitment was conducted through mass media to get patients to self-refer.”
He said solving this problem is what led them to start the company. The nuts and bolts of the partnership, in turn, will use a referral cluster model powered by ePatientFinder’s artificial intelligence platform. This will allow research sites to increase their patient catchment—or patient pool—by tapping into physicians who are geographically convenient to a research site. Circuit Clinical expertise is in deploying technology to provide high-touch, personalized services to ensure patient engagement and retention.
“We were in a position to create a remarkable partnership…because we can partner with physicians,” Dorsett added. “Marketing companies don’t have this kind of access to physicians, hospitals and accountable care organizations (ACOs).”
Current research strongly supports the need for clinical trial researchers to reduce costs and shorten the pharmacy development pipeline to control and even lower costs. According to a Tufts University study, it takes an average of 17 months to cover the ground from protocol approval to site approval. Industry-wide, patient recruitment is one of the most common factors cited for such delay. Jason Monteleone, a clinical trial finance expert, termed patient recruitment in a blog post as “clinical research’s white whale.”
Dr. Khan said the partnership will offer a new value proposition to CROs when it comes to patient recruitment.
“The trend is destined for more efficiencies,” he said. “Our two companies will now engage patients [though their physician]) who in the past wanted to participate but did not have access. We’ve already had multiple ACOs and hospital practices partner with us to be on the leading edge of this coming trend.”
This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 43, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »