The direct benefits of clinical research to practices and individual physicians are beginning to
come to light. For example, clinical research
enables practices to differentiate themselves.
With the rise in healthcare consumerism,
patients are not only scouring publicly available patient satisfaction data when selecting a
provider, they are seeking providers who deliver
diversified care. In fact, 42% of physicians and
43% of nurses indicate that their patients are
inquiring about clinical trials more frequently
than they did a few years ago.
Western Washington Medical Group is an
example of a practice that has integrated
clinical research into its practice model. The
physicians and providers believe that clinical
research differentiates the group, enabling
them to diversify their revenue, provide additional patient support, and optimize care.
Other physician groups have demonstrated
sound results, as well. Wilmington Health,
a large multispecialty group that is one of
the country’s top-performing ACOs, has
demonstrated improved patient experience
ratings, A1C results (Figure 1), and lowered
cost-per-beneficiary (Figure 2) in diabetic
patients who participated in a trial, as compared to both diabetics not in a trial and the
entire nondiabetic population.
These results are especially beneficial because cost of care
and quality directly impact ACO performance ratings and
increase returns on commercial value-based contracts. Figure 3 measures the benefits Wilmington Health’s physicians
reported. Today, the group continues to seek ways to engage
physicians and patients in clinical research.
Additionally, physicians report that research is rewarding in
other ways. “I now have more options for frustrated patients who
have seen physician after physician, only to be told there aren’t
any alternatives,” says Christy Capet, M.D., a gynecologist based
in Austin, Texas. This is evidenced by a comment from one of
her patients who recently participated in a urinary incontinence
study: “Nothing else had worked, and I am so grateful.”
Providing a high level of care and
access to care options can also alleviate physician burnout and remind
physicians why they entered the field.
According to Dr. Holmes, physicians
are often drawn to medicine for the
high level of intellectual stimulation,
which can be diluted by mundane
administrative tasks. She says that clinical research reignites
a physician’s involvement with the advancement of medicine.
Similarly, Nancy Dickey, M.D., president emeritus, Texas
A&M Health Science Center, and executive director, A&M
Rural & Community Health Institute, says, “Participation in
clinical research revives the notion that physicians are con-
tributing something positive to health care at large. … It can
be refreshing to claim back some of the control that many
feel has been lost to administrative burden.”
Dr. Dickey, a former family medicine physician in private
practice, believes that physician burnout is driven by relent-
less administrative requirements, time demands, and the
emotional toll of treating diagnostically challenged, chronic,
and often life-threatening conditions. In contrast, through
clinical research, physicians may
be able to offer hope to patients
who have few alternatives.
Thanks to the transformation occurring in centralized models of clinical
research, barriers to research
participation are being overcome.
Physicians and patients are reaping
Cost of Care per Beneficiary
It Takes a Village
“It often takes a village or a multidisciplinary
team to support a patient. Everyone has impact,
and the patient feels empowered to take control
of their disease state,” says Stephanie Abbott,
Pharm.D., the research director for Western
Washington Medical Group, an independent multispecialty group that offers clinical research.