McConnell Centers for Innovative Medicine is the new model for patient engagement
The new RI-MUHC super hospital and research center is designed to connect physicians, nurses and researchers. By working together, they can develop and evaluate complex medical problems and make use of industry innovation, including diagnostic tools and therapies.
Danika Laberge, associate director of operations at the McConnell CIM, said having complete, dedicated research facilities so closely associated with a major hospital facility helps provide a patient population base to enroll study participants. Moreover, the relevant technology platforms are close at hand—and available only to the research community.
“Investigators who conduct research at the center have access, not only to our state-of-the-art facilities, but also to a wide range of administrative staff and specialized support services that can be accessed essentially at cost, since we are a nonprofit. This leaves PIs free to do what they do best—research,” said Laberge. In fact, she said, the center can even provide what she called a miniature CRO. The miniature CRO is more of an academic CRO and not a full-scale, global organization, but it provides the assistance needed to conduct research and comply with regulations to support clinical studies at the center.
Patient outcomes are central to the RI-MUHC mission, as it strives to “generate and leverage discovery and innovation to establish the RI-MUHC as a world-class center of excellence in patient-centered medicine.” The RI-MUHC has a multi-pronged approach. The Centre for Translational Biology (CTB) covers genetics research; the McConnell CIM is the only facility in Canada where patients from the hospital can participate directly in clinical trials without having to leave the facility; and the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE), which focuses on improving the health of all society. The key, according to Laberge, is the CORE facility employs more than 80 researchers who are focused on outcomes.
The goal of creating a smooth arc across research stages—using basic biomedical research to advance clinical studies and applying innovation to translate basic discoveries into useful patient remedies—is a powerful motive for creating a CIM at a research institute. At the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC) in Baltimore, the CIM dates back to 2004.
Co-Founder and Director Dr. David Hellmann said the center “has philosophical underpinnings in the concept of Medicine as Public Trust, in keeping with the school’s original mission.” Dr. Hellmann, who is also vice-dean at JHBMC and chairman of the Department of Medicine, said the center has two additional missions. One is to create better doctors and nurses through the donor-funded Aliki initiative and the Miller-Coulson Academy for Clinical Excellence, both of which encourage staff to spend more time with patients and enjoy collaboration with all members of the interdisciplinary team. The other is Medicine for the Greater Good, which involves working with the public to inspire them to seek healthy choices and lifestyles. All three missions focus on the patient as the beneficiary of the healthcare solution.
Today, all research conducted at the JHBMC CIM—even complex studies of immune checkpoint inhibitors in cancer therapies or studies of new blood tests that may identify age-related infirmities resulting from chronic inflammation—includes careful consideration of patient outcomes when evaluating research results.
Hellmann attributes JHBMC’s powerful returns to its strong patient-centered approach, as much of its funding ties directly to patients the center has helped. Following in the footsteps of the more established center, the McConnell CIM can expect a similar payout in relation to its patient recruitment efforts. With patient outcomes central to the centers’ mission, it’s likely to enjoy much of the same success.
The McConnell CIM is the next step in the patient-centered model. Placing physicians, nurses, researchers and patients into one central location connects research and population health. The convenience for potential trials and patient-focused research only contributes to the excitement surrounding this phase of community health.
This article was reprinted from Volume 20, Issue 18, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »