RALEIGH, N.C.—This September saw the debut of the “Inspiring Hope” Ideathon, an effort spearheaded by contract research organization INC Research Holdings Inc. and the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) with the goal of helping to increase awareness of clinical trial participation among patients, healthcare professionals and the general public.
The competition received almost 70 entries and of those, 14 were selected as finalists to present their solutions to a panel of judges. At the presentation event, which ran Sept. 27-28, the entries were assessed based on innovation, feasibility of implementation, sustainability and their potential for impact in raising awareness of clinical trials, particularly among minority and vulnerable populations. Participants were also asked to address four problem statements involving clinical research’s role in society: the issue of ongoing participation in clinical studies, more active engagement with patients seeking alternative healthcare options and the need to create higher levels of recognition and appreciation for clinical trial volunteers. The winning team received a $10,000 prize awarded by CISCRP.
“We would like to thank everyone who submitted an idea for the ‘Inspiring Hope’ Ideathon and congratulate our finalists who have submitted some truly innovative approaches to address this important need,” commented Dr. Clare Grace, vice president of site and patient access at INC Research. “We received a very strong response—much higher than expected—and the quality, creativity and diversity of ideas coming from patients and professionals across the clinical research enterprise was outstanding.”
That sentiment is echoed by Ken Getz, founder and board chair of CISCRP and an Ideathon judge, who notes, “Not only was the number of ideas much higher than we expected, but the quality of the ideas was absolutely humbling … What impressed me equally with the volume of ideas was the quality and the caliber and the depth of ideas as well. We were so pleased with the response.”
The winning idea—a corporate social responsibility program that would empower companies to improve wellness and health literacy for their employees by connecting clinical trial awareness and participation with other social causes—came from the team dubbed “C2: The Clinical Study Change Agent Collective.” That team was led by Angela Radcliffe, executive vice president of FCBVIO, and Patrick Tobin, executive vice president of FCB Health, along with Meghan Kates, Tony Hursey and Donna Fowle. The team also had input during ideation from Diane Montross of Shire and Lani Hashimoto of Novartis and colleagues at FCB. Judges selected the team’s idea for its longevity, momentum and the fact that it begins at the start of the patient journey.
“We are honored to be chosen as the winner of the ‘Inspiring Hope’ Ideathon and look forward to seeing our idea put into action to solve a very important need,” said Radcliffe. “The support and energy surrounding this premiere event has been outstanding. It’s wonderful to have a platform dedicated to driving big thinking around one of the core challenges of clinical trials and drug development. At the end of the day, we are all focused on increasing awareness of clinical trials to ultimately benefit patients and advance public health. We are excited about our concept and the potential of bringing it to life.”
Getz notes that awareness of the importance of clinical trials has improved in the past decade or so, but says that improvement is “a bit nuanced.”
“General awareness itself, when we try to test it, is actually relatively high,” he tells DDNews. “In polls that have been conducted globally over the last two decades, a very high percentage—70 to 85 percent—will tell you that they are generally aware of clinical research and its purpose. And if you think about it, it makes sense. We as consumers of all kinds of products across many different industries, we understand the need to test a product or drug to make sure it’s safe and effective before it’s available to the market. So the general public has a very top-line awareness of the concept of clinical research and why it’s necessary.”
“But where awareness really starts to break down is at two levels: awareness of relevance of clinical research to each of us individually and awareness of the elements that ensure that the clinical research enterprise is successful, including where clinical trials are conducted, who are the people involved,” he continues. “Where the awareness is really challenged is in what we call the overall knowledge and literacy about the clinical research process and how it operates.”
CISCRP has been involved in other efforts to boost clinical trial awareness and participation, says Getz. The organization worked with the Department of Health and Human Services on a public awareness-building campaign with the message “Behind every new medicine are the volunteers who take part in clinical research studies,” and also launched the Medical Heroes campaign.
Getz tells DDNews that they look forward to continuing the Ideathon next year while also maintaining the momentum of the ideas generated this year. He noted in a press that in the immediate future, CISCRP and INC Research will work with Team C2 to implement their plan.
Ibraheem Mahmood, CEO of DrugDev and a platinum sponsor of the Ideathon, commented, “Clinical trials present patients and healthcare providers with unique opportunities to treat disease and improve quality of life, but 95 percent of the population does not participate due to lack of awareness and misconceptions. We can’t let this go on. The Ideathon is a great way to bring new contributors into the clinical trial process and to explore and develop creative ideas through collaboration. It is well-aligned with the DrugDev company mission of helping researchers and patients do more trials.”
Sponsors for the Ideathon included DrugDev, EMD Serono, WIRB Copernicus Group, Greenphire, ePatientFinder, Medidata and qd Solutions, as well as association partners the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, the Society for Clinical Research Sites and the Greater Gift Initiative. Media partners included CenterWatch, pharmaphorum and PharmaVOICE.