While the COVID-19 pandemic has created unsurpassed challenges for the clinical research and healthcare industries, professionals in both fields are seeking solutions that empower them to continue their work. The annual CRAACO (Clinical Research as a Care Option) brings together leaders from research and healthcare to discuss ideas that can benefit trial teams, caregivers, patients and other stakeholders.
Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) recently discussed the CRAACO 2020 program with conference producer Andrew Goldstein, who described the event’s mission, agenda, and the innovation taking place at the intersection of clinical research and patient care.
OSP: Please tell us about CRAACO.
AG: CRAACO is the first conference in the US for both hospitals and pharma committed to closing the gaps between care and research with patients at the center to provide better health options for all communities. CRAACO brings together healthcare, pharma and biotech R&D, patient advocacy and payor stakeholders to address the value, opportunities and challenges in integrating care and research for the benefit of patients.
OSP: This quote from the show site is impactful: “Clinical research is typically transactional and not integrated as part of a healthcare organization’s care options.” Could you please elaborate on that a bit, and share why that might be an issue?
AG: Clinical research should be offered as a potential care option where needed for patients without specifically requesting it. There are a host of challenges to get there, from raising awareness and getting physicians comfortable with research to figuring out the financial implications of recommending a patient participate in research at another institution.
The CRAACO conference aims to provide a toolbox and best practices in addressing these challenges to give patients more options and to make clinical research as part of the care continuum.
OSP: Could you please expand on the goals of the show, and then share how the programming you’re offering helps further them?
AG: The foremost goal is to bring the needed stakeholders together to figure out how to integrate clinical care and clinical research to give patients more options and to make clinical research part of the care continuum.
This goal requires participation from multiple industries; we need to bring together health systems big and small, life sciences, patient advocacy, payors, regulators, physicians and innovators together to share their perspectives and challenges in order to chart a path forward in integrating care and research. To this end, we have multiple panel discussions with representation from across these industries to address how to work together and make forward progress.
Within the overall goal of CRAACO are questions that require answers: How can we do a better job raising awareness of clinical trials to patients? How do we integrate clinical trials into health systems? How do we reduce the barriers and burden to participation for clinicians, research investigators and patients? How can we expand this idea to health systems across the US, of various sizes, serving different populations, across indications?
To address these questions, the conference provides case studies from health systems and pharma companies who are successfully integrating research and care. Additional sessions focus on innovative approaches, data sharing and privacy, collaborations, and technology that can be leveraged.
OSP: Please share your perspective on the formidable challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and, if there are any opportunities.
AG: COVID-19 exposes two truths. The first truth is that research is care and care is research. A novel coronavirus by definition requires research and clinical trials as a form of care. There is no way to develop new vaccines and therapies as care options without enrolling patients in clinical trials. Since the beginning of the outbreak, patients were given experimental therapies because there was no standard of care.
The second truth is that there are real discrepancies in access to both care and research for different communities. By making it as easy as possible for patients to engage in clinical research, we can reduce some of those discrepancies.
OSP: Could you please share some of the highlights of the program?
AG: There are two highlights throughout the program that touch upon many of the sessions throughout the conference. Sessions like Facing a Sense of Urgency with CRAACO in the time of COVID-19 [November 3, 2:30 pm EST), Misaligned Incentives: Physician Perspectives on the Integration of CRAACO [November 6, 1:20 pm EST], Payor Views of CRAACO [November 6, 2 pm EST] and the industry and patient perspectives on engagements will convene various perspectives together towards a single goal.
The second highlight is the series of case studies and examples throughout the conference on how medical systems, change agents, and pharma companies navigate the integration of care and research. One session in particular, Save Lives by Accelerating Learning through Creative and Adaptive Platform Clinical Trials [November 4, 3:20 pm EST] with Dr Laura Esserman and Dr Anna Barker specifically addresses creative and adaptive clinical trial platforms, challenges and barriers to adoption and the benefits of adoption including efficiency, flexibility and improved health outcomes.
OSP: Finally, what value is there in attending CRAACO this time around, especially considering the current environment?
OSP: It has never been more important to close the gaps between research and care by putting patients and physicians first to provide better health options for all. By learning from institutions that have applied CRAACO in the setting of a pandemic, attendees will learn the value, opportunities and next steps to push these values forward.
OSP: Is there anything you’d like to add?
AG: Excellence is a race without a finish. CRAACO is not a specific endpoint but a series of steps towards enhancing patient outcomes and the patient experience by uniting clinical research and care.