With 11 research sites in North and South Carolina and Tennessee, PMG Research announced today the establishment of its 12th site, expanding its geographic footprint north to assume the operations of the clinical research department at Christie Clinic in Illinois, an integrated health center with 150 multi-specialty physicians and access to 80,000 patients.
“We’ve been working for a while to be able to scale beyond our existing geography,” said Jennifer Byrne, CEO of PMG Research, an integrated network of sites founded in 1979. PMG provides clinical research infrastructure to large physician practices and institutional healthcare providers.
“Christie Clinic is a middle-market system of care that is value based, looking to reduce the cost of care by improving outcomes and patient satisfaction, plus provide broader clinical trial opportunities for its patients,” said Byrne. “So clinical research will be considered a care option.”
The partnership—formally called PMG Research of Christie Clinic—expects to collaborate with a greater number of physician investigators across a wide range of therapeutic areas, along with increased physician referrals to the PMG network and better access to patients.
“We are essentially bringing a turnkey clinical trials infrastructure in partnership with healthcare institutions,” said Byrne, which has worked closely with Wilmington Health, a large multi-specialty clinic in Wilmington, N.C., that draws from 376,000 potential patient volunteers for clinical trials.
“Once we partnered with PMG for clinical trials, our finances improved, our clinical outcomes studies were enhanced and the cost to alternate payers was reduced, so it was a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Jeff James, CEO of Wilmington Health, who once worked at Christie Clinic and had recommended PMG to Christie Clinic executives.
Byrne said Christie Clinic provides a range of health services to area residents but a limited number of clinical trials, conducted by just 12 physicians. As the second largest regional health center in the east central Illinois area, it is the largest physician-owned, multi-specialty healthcare group in Illinois. Founded in 1929, Christie Clinic in Champaign-Urbana has been conducting clinical research since 1976, including trials in cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, internal medicine, neurology and rheumatology.
“One of our main reasons for making this transition is that it provides an opportunity for our patients to participate in clinical trials. On our own, we have struggled over the years to expand our clinical research,” said Kenny Bilger, CEO of Christie Clinic. “Our year-to-year clinical trials were flat, so we saw a big opportunity to do more. Our choices were to either hire a clinical trials team as part of our organization or affiliate with a partner such as PMG with clinical trial expertise, which made a lot of sense for us.”
Christie operates three clinics in Champaign; a vein and vascular center, cancer center and sleep center; satellite clinics in eight surrounding communities; and four convenient care clinics.
Bilger said internal discussions with physicians about expanding Christie’s clinical trials led to working with PMG.
“The doctors, along with other groups, were overwhelmingly supportive of our clinical research journey, and the arrangement was pre-approved by our board of directors,” said Bilger, adding the clinical trials transition to PMG begins May 1.
Christie employees who work on clinical trials will be interviewed by PMG and those offered positions will transition to become new employees of PMG at their current workplace. Those not offered research positions with PMG will be offered other positions at Christie, said Bilger.
For PMG, the expansion to Illinois is part of its mission to bring clinical research to as many lives as possible. Christie’s 150 physicians and 80,000 patient base will be added to PMG’s more than 180 full-time clinical research coordinators, regulatory personnel and administrative staff working with more than 60 physician practices and 2.1 million potential patients.
“Our goal is not necessarily to do more and more trials, but to attract more patients to fewer trials. Those trials can recruit and retain more patients, which provides a higher value for sites while reducing costs for pharmas and CROs,” said Byrne. “We also will be focused on bringing more education to the physicians with our investigator training platform and will add a Christie physician to PMG’s board of medical advisors.”
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