New technologies and concepts are all well and good. However, they won’t advance precision clinical trials alone. The key to success? Clinical researcher coordinators (CRCs). That’s the verdict of one of the winners of a recent clinical trial challenge affiliated with the Harvard Business School (HBS).
“Without fantastic CRCs, we wouldn’t be as successful,” says Christopher R. Cogle, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Florida and scholar in clinical research with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The work of CRCs to recruit patients and capture clinical outcomes is “absolutely critical” to the entire process, he stresses.
HBS was recently part of a project that awarded $100,000 in prizes to the winner and two runners-up in its HBS/Kraft Precision Trials Challenge (PTC). “The objective of the challenge is to highlight innovations or ideas that show promise in either reducing costs or increasing the speed in which these go through the trial process,” says Robert S. Huckman, faculty chair for the Health Care Initiative with HBS. The PTC was the first research pilot for new HBS/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator, propelled by a $20 million gift from the Kraft Family Foundation.
“A CRC has to be well versed in this technology and its ramifications,” Cogle says. He works closely with his CRCs to help modify protocols as needed and educate them on the most appropriate way to collect specimens. “The gung ho CRCs get it,” Cogle says. They relish learning something new, they are excited by new technology, and appreciate that this can offer some new opportunity for a patient stricken with, for example, certain blood-related or pancreatic cancers. “CRCs want to help to offer patients a new opportunity to fight back,” Cogle concludes.
While the stereotype is that older employees tend resist change—especially new technologies—more than millennials, that’s not been Cogle’s experience. “Maybe I’ve been lucky, but the CRCs I’ve worked with embrace new ideas and new technologies,” he says. “That’s why they are CRCs. It’s the ‘R’ in the job.”
For more on this topic, check out the article on “Industry Embraces Precision Clinical Trials” in the forthcoming August 2016 issue of ACRP’s Clinical Researcher journal.
Winners of the HBS Precision Trials Challenge were announced during a free ACRP Webinar on Clinical Trials Day (May 20). This free session explores new ideas in precision medicine and clinical trials.