Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Drug Researchers Tap Patients for Help Designing Clinical Trials

Ex Google Health Chief To Pharma: Apply Patient Insight and User-Centric Design to Improve Trials

By Marc Dresner, IIR
Dr. Roni Zeiger
It seems remiss, but for a long time the only experts pharmaceutical companies did not consult when developing clinical trials were the patients.

Now clinical researchers are embracing patient-centricity and increasingly looking to patients for insight. 

They may even be more apt than clinicians to listen to patients.

That’s according to Dr. Roni Zeiger, former chief health strategist at Google and co-founder and CEO of Smart Patients.

Smart Patients is an online community for cancer patients and their (lay) caregivers that, among other things, provides a forum for lots of talk about trials between members and even helps connect patients with sites.

The company also partners with pharmaceuticals, who, according to Zeiger, are eager to learn from patients and have come to rely on the community on the front end to inform trial design.

Zeiger recently sat down with Inside Clinical to discuss this trend in a podcast interview.
“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would have been cautiously pessimistic about the readiness of the industry to work more collaboratively with patients.”

“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would have been cautiously pessimistic about the readiness of industry to work more collaboratively with patients,” said Zeiger. “But I am actually finding a lot of openness and excitement to do just this kind of work.” 

A Consumer Goods Approach

Zeiger says it’s about time clinical research takes a page from traditional consumer-facing industries.

“If I put on my product developer’s hat and think about the clinical trial as a product, [usually] the first time that the consumer of this product is exposed to the product is when it’s on the shelf—when it’s time to enroll,” said Zeiger.

“If you use that analogy in any other industry,” he added, “most people would say that it would be crazy…This violates every rule of user-centric design.”
“In any other industry, most people would say it would be crazy...This violates every rule of user-centric design.”


Clinical Researcher vs Clinician: More Reason to Listen

Zeiger, a practicing physician, himself, said he believes the drug industry is in many ways better positioned and more willing than healthcare providers to partner with patients.

“The incentives around the delivery of healthcare and the way we get reimbursed for providing care are really complex and not very well aligned, a lot of times, with what patients need, whereas on the drug development side, the incentives are actually quite nicely aligned,” Zeiger told Inside Clinical.
"The incentives around the delivery of healthcare and the way we get reimbursed for providing care are not very well aligned with what patients need, but on the drug development side, the incentives are quite nicely aligned."


And Zeiger says the nature of cancer lends itself to this kind of resource, since participating in research can be tantamount to a treatment option.

“Because this is an oncology-focused community, it includes a lot of discussion about trials and which trial might be more appropriate for someone to get into next because they know they are going to fail their current therapy before too long,” said Zeiger.

“When I talk to the patient communities, they are delighted to be participating in projects that can help the drug companies create better drugs for them more quickly and create trials that hopefully are better experiences for them,” he added.




Editor’s note: Roni Zeiger will be speaking further on this topic at the 23rd Annual Partnerships in Clinical Trials March 30th through April 2nd in Las Vegas.  As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code XP1900BLOG, you'll save $100 off the current rate.

For more information or to register, please visit www.clinicaltrialpartnerships.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR / INTERVIEWER
Marc Dresner is IIR USA's senior editor and special communication projects lead. He is the former executive editor of Pharma Market Research Report, a confidential newsletter for marketing researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.




No comments: