How do you give back? Whether you volunteer your time, donate to causes you believe in, or help your community in other ways, doing your part feels good. As you think of ways to make a difference, clinical research may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, you may be shocked to learn just how much of an impact participating in a trial has. Clinical Research Changes Lives Clinical research is the process of making sure new medical discoveries are safe and effective. Participants — everyday people who either have a medical condition or who participate as healthy volunteers — make this process possible. When you participate in clinical research, you can be a part of: These positive effects ripple throughout communities. As a clinical trial participant, you can give the gift of health to a wide range of people. A new treatment that you contribute to through clinical research could save or improve the life of a friend or family member; it could also help a stranger across the country or make life better for future generations. Paying It Forward Even as clinical trials continue to improve medicine, the sad truth is that many people still can’t get the care that a lot of us may take for granted. Imagine if you could be a part of developing new treatments while also improving vaccine access for children in need. By participating in a clinical trial that partners with Greater Gift, you can do just that. Greater Gift is a non-profit that spreads awareness of the benefits of clinical research and expresses gratitude for everyone involved in the process. They pay the gift of health forward by giving vaccines to children in developing countries through Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. Greater Gift also partners with Feeding America to provide meals for children facing hunger. Through the clinical operations giving program, researchers can choose to donate on behalf of participants or other contributors. Make an Impact on Global Health If you are a research sponsor, partnering with Greater Gift can extend the impact of your trial. Showing gratitude makes a big difference for clinical trial participants. After all, these volunteers make research possible, and a simple thank you goes a long way in showing them you appreciate their contribution. When you pair this gratitude with a donation that pays their impact forward, it has an even greater effect. If you are a potential clinical trial participant, you can help Greater Gift by increasing awareness of their mission. You can also donate to boost Greater Gift’s reach in bringing clinical research to more underrepresented communities. This work is only possible with the help of donors and sponsors. A great place to start getting familiar with research is through our resource library. We’ve collected information from a variety of sources from trial participants to national health organizations and put it in one convenient place. Once you’ve learned more about how clinical research works, spread the word with our shareable assets. These graphics make it easy to amplify awareness among your friends, family, and professional network. It only takes a few minutes, but the effect can be significant.
By: Scott Stout, MedVector Think of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the modern era. Anything you can name, from the end of smallpox to the recent development of COVID-19 vaccines, owes its existence to clinical research. Clinical research uncovers new or improved treatments for both rare and common conditions, and clinical trials confirm their efficacy and safety in humans. Both clinical research and clinical trials are essential for moving medicine forward, saving lives, and increasing quality of life for you, your loved ones, and your community. By understanding what clinical research is, why it matters, and how to break down barriers to participation, you can become part of this essential process of discovery. And why should you consider it? Participating in a clinical trial can help improve the health of people everywhere, and it’s easier than you may think. What Is Clinical Research? Clinical research is a scientific process that examines new treatment options and/or new observations about health and illness in people. Clinical research can also include observational studies. These studies look at medical data and/or biological samples, but do not test new treatments. Then, through clinical trials, researchers confirm potential benefits and identify risks of new drugs and therapies before making them available to the public. The clinical trial process happens in phases. Every step of the way, researchers must follow strict standards to prove efficacy and patient safety. Once a clinical trial demonstrates a new treatment is safe and effective, patients everywhere can begin to access its benefits. Why Are Clinical Trials Important? Clinical trials are the backbone of medical progress. They take discoveries from the lab into practice, bringing the latest developments in medicine and technology to communities like yours. Without clinical trials, medicine simply couldn’t evolve, and, more importantly, treatments that save and improve lives wouldn’t be able to reach the people who need them. How You Benefit From Clinical Trials The benefits of clinical trials for science as a whole are clear, but what about the benefits for people who participate in these trials? Clinical trial participants benefit in many ways. You: Barriers to Clinical Trial Accessibility If clinical trials are so essential, why have 91% of Americans never participated in one? Some barriers to trial access and participation include: But what if the doctors you already know and trust could offer clinical trials as a care option? Even considering the barriers to clinical research, studies suggest 75% of patients would participate in a clinical trial if it were recommended by their doctor. Knowing this, an obvious conclusion to patient-centric participation in clinical research is … our doctors. However, not all doctors want to get involved in research, and the ones that attempt to do so typically stop. Underenrollment, paperwork, and strict compliance guidelines create additional work, requiring doctors to dedicate a significant portion of their resources to keep running trials, let alone be profitable. Why Don’t Doctors Just Refer Their Patients to Clinical Trials? In a perfect world, doctors would refer their patients into clinical trials, but even after addressing the awareness problems, several factors prevent this: Clinical Trials as a Care Option We know that patients want to hear about clinical trials from their trusted doctors, but current avenues to provide access are not ideal: either become an investigator or refer a patient (customer) to another doctor. So how do we bridge this gap and align the interests of patients, clinical trial sites, and treating physicians? A decentralized clinical trial (DCT) gives patients access to clinical trials from alternative locations, such as their home or local clinic, but in an industry that values “caution” over “innovation,” the process of putting DCTs into practice has been painfully slow. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine, a decentralization tool in the telehealth family, became common practice and has continued to be widely used. Telehealth is the delivery of health care services or monitoring by video, messaging, or other options that don’t require a physical visit to a doctor’s office. A unique benefit for clinical research is that telehealth enables a patient to be in two places at once: physically at their doctor’s office, while virtually at a clinical trial site. This concept allows patients to access advanced medicines from a variety of locations including, not only treating physician’s offices, but also local labs or pharmacies. Even more importantly, by enabling treating physicians to “host” clinical trial appointments from their local practice, it reduces the referral concerns of patient leakage, lost revenue, and control of care. Under this model, patients have increased access to research while their doctors become part of the referral, continuing to be the primary caregiver for the patient. Get Involved in Clinical Research If you’re a patient interested in moving the needle toward clinical research as a care option, you can start by talking to your doctor. Ask them if they’re familiar with clinical trials and if they’re aware of the new technologies bringing them to local communities like yours. Even if they aren’t currently involved in research, this question could spark your doctor’s natural curiosity and pave the way for future access to new care options, which is good for everyone! Our website also has a variety of resources for you to explore, including tools to search for trials near you. As clinical research continues to evolve and become more accessible, you can help be part of the future of medicine by getting involved.