2 collaborations – CVS Health with Medable, and Thermo Fisher Scientific with Medidata Acorn AI – seek to improve clinical trials

CVS MinuteClinic providers will use Medable’s software platform to improve patient access, engagement and retention during clinical trials. Meanwhile, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Medidata Acorn AI announced a collaboration to develop an application that combines patient recruitment and site performance data for clinical trials.

CVS Health, the retail pharmacy which is seeking to overhaul its healthcare strategy, and Palo Alto, California-based software company Medable announced Monday that they’re partnering to expand access to clinical trials through CVS MinuteClinic locations nationwide.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the partnership.

There are disparities in research participation as well. Clinical trial participants are disproportionately white, though participation among African-Americans increasing. However, other minorities including Asian, Hispanic and Latino groups still consistently underrepresented, according to the clinical data science company Phesi.

Patient retention in trials is also a challenge. The vast majority of patients who start a trial don’t complete it.

“One of the key reasons is inconvenient location – often the time and economics with taking long trips and time off from work to go to sites that are inconveniently located make trials impossible for some folks, especially in some underrepresented communities,” said Sanskriti Thakur, chief growth officer at Medable, in an email. “This partnership materially changes the way research touches people in the U.S., allowing more patients to participate in relevant trials, and likely retaining more patients throughout.”

CVS Health Clinical Trial Services helped engage patients and facilitate trials for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, according to the company. As part of its collaboration with Medable, CVS said it will continue to drive awareness and engagement in clinical research for faster and more comprehensive recruitment; and the company said it’s seeking to reach patients with mounting chronic illnesses and other vulnerable populations that are underrepresented in clinical research.

“Those populations often have limited access to health care, and therefore a greater chance of poor health and lower life expectancy. Over 40% of the vulnerable population in the U.S. lives within five miles of a CVS Pharmacy location, so we have a chance to engage them,” said Tony Clapsis, general manager and senior vice president of CVS Health Clinical Trial Services, in a statement. “Coupling Medable’s software platform and experience with CVS Health’s national reach, analytics and established clinical trial and care delivery teams and services will further enrich and accelerate our ability to make a difference in the lives of patients and support an improved clinical research process.”

CVS and Medable aren’t alone in effort endeavoring to improve clinical trials. Also on Monday, two other companies announced a multiyear partnership aimed at improving clinical trial site selection and speeding up patient recruitment.

Wilmington, North Carolina-based Thermo Fisher Scientific said in a news release that it’s partnering with Medidata Acorn AI, a Dassault Systèmes company, based in New York City. The PPD clinical research business of Thermo Fisher and Medidata have developed PPD TrueCast, an application that combines patient recruitment and site performance data with predictive models and analytics.

“As a result of the vast site-level data amassed by PPD and Medidata, customers now have even greater visibility into how a trial is performing for any study our clinical research business is helping them run,” said David M. Johnston, senior vice president and president of clinical research at Thermo Fisher Scientific, in a statement.

TrueCast tracks study performance during the enrollment period and predicts enrollment risk. When changes need to be made, the application provides real-time site performance metrics to identify high-performing sites.

“AI and advanced analytics play an increasingly critical role in a rapidly changing clinical trial environment,” said Fareed Melhem, senior vice president of Medidata Acorn AI, in a statement. “We’re delighted to be working side by side with Thermo Fisher’s clinical research business to combine our technology, data and expertise. Together, we are now offering companies new ways to rethink their clinical trials through access to live, cross-industry site performance data.”

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

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