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Clinical Trials Could Get More Participant “Likes” from Social Media

July 19th, 2013
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A few months ago, I discussed the development of a patient-centered clinical trial, in which participants could access their own health data and even help design more personalized clinical testing protocols. Much of this activity would happen online, which begs the next question: can the online patient-centered trial model be used to drive more people to volunteer for trials?
 
Recruiting enough participants has long been a significant challenge for clinical trial coordinators. Poor site selection and slow recruitment are the biggest reasons for clinical trial delays (which in turn, are the biggest reasons for slower drug approvals). As of 2010, it took 6.8 years on average to complete the clinical trials component of a drug’s development, out of 8.3 years to finish the entire cycle from IND to NDA. On average, recruitment delays add 4.6 months to the clinical trial process—on top of all the other factors that delay trials, this is one we can control.
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Some Low-Tech Healthcare Issues Need High-Tech Help

June 19th, 2013
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Healthcare improvements often depend on technology a great deal, whether it’s a new drug, diagnostic device, online system or even an app. Sometimes, however, solutions to nagging problems beg for less costly, low-tech solutions. And in a handful of cases, low- and high-tech innovations must work hand-in-hand for a problem to be successfully addressed.
 
Take hand-washing, for example. This simple procedure can help combat the 100,000 deaths and $30 billion in annual costs due to hospital-acquired infections, yet only 30 percent of hospital staff meets the standard for hand-washing recommended by the World Health Organizations and other health groups. Now that hospitals could lose Medicare funding if enough patients contract preventable infections, they’re looking to technological solutions to fix this age-old problem, including high tech devices like video monitoring and motion detectors in intensive care units. Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthcare’s Next Big Innovation Could be Right in Our Hands

May 7th, 2013
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When seeking healthcare innovations, it’s traditional to look first at basic science, then clinical research, or at engineers tinkering with new devices. But this view might be a little too narrow, as advances with the greatest impact may come from industries that have nothing to do with healthcare.
 
Take Purell, for example. Ohio-based Gojo Industries designed the now-ubiquitous hand-sanitizing gel for auto mechanics. And it was almost a failure; mechanics and consumers alike first rejected the product as a little strange, and nobody, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, originally believed that alcohol-based cleaners provided more value than plain old soap and water.
 
But Purell started to take off when nurses who used it in hospitals started requesting more samples. The nurses had been looking for an antiseptic alternative to stringent, frequent washing with soap and water, which was very tough on hands. Now, not only has Purell (and other alcohol-based cleaners) been approved by the CDC, it is selling by the hundreds of millions of dollars each year; Gojo even has a test hospital lab to find more uses for the cleaning gel.
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Patient-centered trials: Can they boost participation AND empower patients?

April 18th, 2013
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The traditional clinical trial (which, by the way, has been a “tradition” for only about 30 years) involves recruiting a number of people who are required to come to a site on a regular basis to participate. After the trial is over, the trial participant receives payment (sometimes) and not much else. Rarely, if ever, are results or data shared with participants.
 
This model is starting to show some cracks (particularly for U.S.-based trials), however, as recruitment becomes more challenging, and regulatory and liability issues require larger and more complex trial structures. But our era of the Internet, greater consumer power and a trajectory towards tailored, “precision” medicine could provide an answer: more personalized, patient-centered clinical trials. And the trials are more than just a lure for volunteers; they can change how medical research is conducted, all the way down to the results.
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For Clinical Trials, Digital is the Way to Go

March 25th, 2013
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Review any drug’s development history: Clearly, the execution of clinical trials makes up the lion’s share of the timeline. To further complicate matters and extend development timelines, as more drugs are being developed on a global basis, it’s more difficult to keep a clinical trial on target with multiple sites around the world, site qualification visits, and record keeping. In fact, 80% of today’s clinical trials fail to meet one or more milestones. Fortunately, digital technologies – increasingly being adopted by contract research organizations (CROs) and larger biopharmaceutical companies – may offer a way around the limitations of today’s paper-based practices.
 
Recently, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. announced their plans to create a database of global clinical trial sites, which would streamline any participating trial’s significant paperwork requirements. The database would contain site and experimental infrastructure details, and good clinical practice GCP records. The partners will be presenting their progress at the Partnerships in Clinical Trials meeting in April.
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On Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Healthcare Innovations of 2013

December 5th, 2012
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Earlier this week, I reflected on the Cleveland Clinic predictions on the Top 10 innovations in healthcare for 2012 from the vantage point of the year coming to a close. Today, I’ll review the predictions for 2013:

     

  1. Healthcare programs with monetary incentives (Medicare Better Health Rewards Program)—Due to rising costs of healthcare, this program is designed to empower the patient to reach achievable health goals. Metrics gauge improvement in six areas: body mass index, diabetes indicators, blood pressure, cholesterol, vaccinations, and tobacco use. The program gives participants an incentive of up to $400 after they follow the program for two to three years. The rewards: better outcomes for seniors and reduced utilization of healthcare services. While this is not a medical device, it will be interesting to see results over the year ahead.
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The Top 10 Healthcare Innovations of 2012. How Well Did They Do?

December 3rd, 2012
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Last year, the Cleveland Clinic predicted what the Top 10 innovations in healthcare for 2012 would be. Before we report on the Cleveland Clinic’s predictions for 2013, let’s review how well the Top 10 Innovations for this year actually fared:

     

  1. Catheter-based renal denervation for resistant hypertension—Five companies are manufacturing the devices, which are now available in Europe and are under study in the U.S.
  2. CT scans for early detection of lung cancer—New practice guidelines recommend screening using low-dose CT scans for people at high risk of developing lung cancer and can only be performed in experienced facilities. The cost? About $100 per screening (not covered by insurance).
  3. Concussion management for athletesThe Cleveland Clinic is developing a concussion app for use in high schools that checks athletes’ memory, reaction time, and balance and compares scores to previous data points.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Right Shopping List for Healthcare Consumers

November 20th, 2012
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We have followed the progress of Walgreens as the drugstore chain integrates health clinics into its stores as one example of what appears to be a growing trend throughout the drugstore industry. But it’s still not clear how these clinics will fit into the mix of healthcare offerings.
 
Walgreens now has 356 in-store clinics, and other drugstore chains are more than catching up: CVS has about 588 CVS “MinuteClinics,” and Wal-Mart includes 143 clinics across some of its stores nationwide. The consulting firm Merchant Medicine estimates that there are almost 1,400 in-store health clinics in the United States.
 
Recently, National Public Radio and Truven Health Analytics conducted a poll of consumers, and found that:
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Health IT’s Sharpening Focus: Calibrating Health Care

September 19th, 2012
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Sometimes the state of healthcare seems more like the movie “Snakes on a Plane” rather than the symbol of the serpent entwined on the Rod of Asclepius (the Greek god associated with healing and medicine). The movie title alone conjures pretty frightening images. The good news is that the rising numbers for healthcare investment, information technology spending, and consumer behavior related to their healthcare choices reveal a course change that’s not reptilian at all: 

  • According to a recent report in MedCity News, healthcare spending on telecommunications will outpace overall healthcare industry growth rates—climbing to $14.4 billion by 2017, at an annual growth rate of 10 percent.
  • Venture capitalists and incubators are researching both life sciences companies and IT companies—they could create matches between life science innovators and IT to spur more digital health innovations.
  • Improved networks and information technology are allowing providers to leverage their traditional medical care resources (e.g., hospitals, clinics, equipment) across a larger base of remote patients. These networks and electronic health records (EHR) will allow collaboration among clinicians, care teams, patients and provider organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Drawing an Infographic Line on Healthcare’s Future

September 4th, 2012
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Predicting the future is a risky game; too often, the prognosticator is wrong. But the exercise can be valuable, because it forces an analysis of forces driving technological and other change, and of what challenges may lay in the path of change.
 
Recently, an infographic on emerging technology published in MedCity News charted several paths that predict how (and how quickly) technological change is likely to occur; this infographic included healthcare innovations. While the graphic resembles the independent lanes of an electrophoresis gel (or an Olympic swimming pool for those of you who may have spent less time in the lab), many of the technological advances profiled are intertwined: for example, telepresence (predicted for 2024) could merge with certain advances in robotics as well as the advent of synthetic biology to develop a remote way of delivering cell therapy that was created entirely in a laboratory.
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