Bridging the Gap Between Clinical Trial Stakeholders and Patients

New online platform, Clinical Trial Guide seeks to improve access.

As a pharmaceutical executive, David Polinsky, Esq., often received calls from desperate patients seeking help finding clinical trials offering potentially lifesaving treatments. Struck by the fact that the callers were totally unfamiliar with how the clinical trial process works, much less how to find and enroll in one, Polinsky spent over a year developing Clinical Trial Guide, an online resource for patients who want to participate in a clinical trial.

Studies have shown that patients are eager to participate in clinical trials. For the most part, they are motivated by personal benefit, but they may also be motivated by the altruistic desire to give back to those experiencing similar health problems.

The only trouble is that they don’t know where to turn for information.

A 2021 study conducted by the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public and patients about clinical research, found that a quarter of respondents who had never participated in a clinical trial weren’t confident they could find one that was right for them. More than 40 percent didn’t recall ever having read or heard about a study looking for volunteers.

In fact, the only broad-based information source on clinical trials is the government website, clinicaltrials.gov, which at this writing listed 414,612 clinical trials for 5,701 conditions in 50 states and 220 counties. Take into consideration the fact that trial descriptions are often written in scientific language that is unintelligible to the layman and you have a recipe for frustration and defeat.

Clinical Trial Guide, which Polinsky, the company’s founder and chairman, describes as his “passion project to give back,” is a new online platform designed to make learning about clinical trials less stressful and more accessible.

Patients and caregivers can now access the information they need to navigate a clinical trial from enrollment through treatment in the form of proprietary articles, news and videos. In addition, webinars will be introduced later this year in which experts will address the clinical trial process and how patients can become involved.

The core of Clinical Trial Guide, however, will be a “Connect” feature to be rolled out at the end of the year that will allow patients to connect directly with pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) running studies. While “Connect” is still a work in progress (suggestions are welcome) the idea is that patients will be able to scroll through readily understandable descriptions of clinical trials posted by clinical trial stakeholders.

Once the “Connect” feature has launched, Clinical Trial Guide will allow patients to reach out to the pharmaceutical companies and CROs directly through the site for more information or to learn how to enroll. Plans also call for allowing patients to connect with pharmaceutical companies and CROs through a live feature, as well as through Zoom information sessions in which industry representatives will discuss their trials.

Patients will benefit from being able to zero in on the trials that are right for them, while

clinical trial stakeholders will benefit from direct access to potential trial participants who have demonstrated their interest through their online searches. The direct access to potential participants will help clinical trial stakeholders enroll, recruit and retain trial participants, all of which are major issues for the industry.

Eventually the site will also include a feedback mechanism that will allow pharmaceutical companies and CROs to design trial protocols that take patient concerns into consideration, a function that will be critically important to staying up to date with the changing needs of patients and pharmaceutical companies alike.

The site is currently privately funded, but will eventually be monetized by charging pharmaceutical companies and CROs for information presented through the site. 

Rivka Szafranski, CEO and Lead Patient Advocate, Clinical Trial Guide