Connection to Communities is Key to Boosting Clinical Trial Engagement

Tony Clapsis, SVP and General Manager, CVS Clinical Trial Services, reflects on industry’s progress.

May 20 is celebrated internationally as Clinical Trials Day, an effort led by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (“ACRP”) to recognize and honor the dedication of clinical research professionals and the important role they play in conducting clinical research to help improve public health.1 This is something near and dear to the hearts of everyone working at CVS Health’s Clinical Trial Services, which officially launched on this day one year ago.

The importance of clinical trials

While clinical research has always been critical to the development and acceptance of innovative medicines, devices and techniques, the national spotlight has never been as focused on clinical trials as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Life-saving trials for the now-approved vaccines played out before a national audience, and CVS Health was instrumental in this effort, as more than 300,000 volunteers opted to hear more about these trials from us. The company formally launched Clinical Trial Services (CTS) on this day in 2021 to advance a human-centric, community-based model for clinical trials.

One year later, CTS hopes to become the industry’s largest, fully integrated, community-based clinical research solution. While CVS Health has long recognized that clinical trials are paramount to public health, we are steadfast in our commitment to addressing longstanding issues with recruitment, diversity, and access to clinical trials.

CVS Health’s community-based model for clinical research

Research has shown that inconvenient trial sites and complex recruitment and enrollment requirements can drive low engagement. For patients, our community-based model seeks to break down these barriers by allowing many to participate in their homes, virtually, or at our expanding network of community sites. It allows research to be integrated into their daily lives and as an extension of their healthcare journey.

As 85% of the US population lives within a 10-mile radius of a CVS Pharmacy location, we are enthusiastic about the ability to deliver this value proposition for patients and sponsors across the United States, and across therapeutic areas that include vaccines, cardiovascular studies, immunology, dermatology, and oncology.

The model is powered by our clinical staff of affiliated principal investigators, health care providers, and clinical research coordinators. Their passion for delivering human-centric clinical research fuels our work and culture. For example, Nurse Practitioner Nicole Pickett in Newnan, Georgia, recently shared that she joined the CVS Health Clinical Trial Services team to help lay the foundations of this new endeavor and is excited about contributing to the future of medicine itself. CVS Health is proud to employ a diverse workforce, aiming to build trust in local communities by ensuring that team member demographics are representative of that communities in which we operate.

Leveraging data to deliver results

Since its inception, CVS Clinical Trial Services has engaged more than 18 million eligible trial participants and enrolled thousands into 33 trials across vaccines, respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurology, working collaboratively with many of the top 20 biopharma sponsors and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We use predictive algorithms to identify ideal candidates for clinical trials, building upon our trusted relationship with over 100 million members, patients, and consumers. For example, drawing on these patient relationships, we successfully enrolled over 1,000 patients nationally into respiratory syncytial virus vaccine studies. We are also using this technology to ensure the inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups in our trials.

Clinical trials are a vital tool to advance novel therapeutic options, but only if they are conducted effectively. CTS can deliver on the promise of clinical research by advancing a human-centric, community-oriented model that can overcome longstanding issues in clinical trial recruitment and diversity. One year into this journey, we have made great progress in developing the structure needed to support this model. We are more excited about the future of CTS and clinical trials than ever before. Today, on Clinical Trials Day, we give thanks to everyone who has worked hard to make this possible, and especially our clinical trials professionals.

Tony Clapsis, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CVS Clinical Trial Services

Reference

  1. https://www.clinicaltrialsday.org/