Image
clinical trail hero
Advertisement
10/04/2022

Participation push: How retail pharmacies can innovate clinical trials

CVS Health Clinical Trial Services was launched in 2021 with the goal of developing and executing a community-centric model for clinical trials.

Clinical trials are vital to evaluating the safety and efficacy of new medicines and devices. Traditionally, these trials are conducted through large academic medical centers or dedicated research clinics. However, the traditional model can create challenges for recruitment and trial conduct. Locations are far from patients’ homes and generally difficult to fit into their busy lives.

As a trusted national brand with a local community presence, CVS Health is well positioned to address these challenges. In 2021, we launched CVS Health Clinical Trial Services, or CTS, with the goal of developing and executing a community-centric model for clinical trials.

Image
Josh Rose, vice president, head of centralized clinical trials, site solutions and strategy, CVS Health Clinical Trial Services
Josh Rose, vice president, head of decentralized clinical trials, site solutions and strategy, CVS Health Clinical Trial Services

National Brand, Community-Centric Trials

Clinical trials need to enroll a target number of patients to be successful, yet the No. 1 challenge we have in clinical research is access to patients. Despite internal research that shows the majority of patients want to participate in clinical studies, less than 5% do.

[Read more: Watch DSN: CVS Health’s Tony Clapsis highlights importance of clinical research]

Historically, the only option for patients was to travel to an academic site, but time needed for travel and expense limit participation. In contrast, 56% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a CVS Health MinuteClinic location. By utilizing these existing healthcare facilities, CVS Health can make participation in clinical trials more convenient and accessible. Furthermore, we have the capabilities in place to better meet the needs of how participants want to engage in trials — in person, at home and virtually. 

We are creating a network of clinical research sites by equipping certain HealthHUB locations with the resources needed to conduct complex trial protocols. These trial-ready sites are often located in areas with higher population density and social vulnerability index, a measurement created by the CDC to determine the preparedness of a community for external stresses on human health. CTS has hired research-experienced nurses, clinical research coordinators, principal investigators and project managers to conduct clinical trials across many therapeutic areas. Having this robust network in place makes our model increasingly scalable.

“Despite internal research that shows the majority of patients want to participate in clinical studies, less than 5% do.

What is CTS Doing Differently?

In addition to expanding access, CTS leverages CVS Health resources to advance clinical research in two key areas.

The first is diversity. It is essential for clinical trials to be inclusive. CTS maintains a strong commitment to diversity in clinical trial participation. By lowering the barrier for patients to participate, we have the unique opportunity to recruit individuals from underserved communities. Also, we are committed to hiring people with diverse backgrounds into our clinical research network. By focusing on the importance of diversity during outreach and hiring, CVS Health can build greater connection and trust with the people it serves.

[Read more: CVS Health’s, Medable’s clinical trial expands access to underserved communities]

The second is that CVS Health owns what we believe to be the largest patient database in the U.S. By analyzing these records, we can conduct targeted recruitment to match the right patient to the right trial. We can also use this database to collect real-world data (RWD), such as clinical results collected outside of a research setting. When our pharma partners approach us to better understand a drug’s safety profile or how it compares to another drug, we can collect RWD in a noninvasive way that contributes to health care outside of a controlled study. This gives CVS Health the power to analyze patient disease burden and patterns relative to cost, treatment effectiveness and outcomes.

Our community-centric trial model is transformative; we are moving clinical research, quickly, toward better care. CVS Health can mitigate some of the risks associated with clinical research by offering a more flexible and convenient system. In doing so, we work toward our goal of advancing healthcare innovation and accessibility, regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In the last year and a half, CTS has made considerable progress toward this end and is only continuing to grow.

    Advertisement
    Advertisement