February 4, 2022
Closing the Care Gap: Driving Clinical Research Through Community Engagement
Life Sciences Strategy LeaderGuest
On World Cancer Day we caught up with our Global Head of Strategy, Malia Lewin, to discuss Teckro’s role in helping to close the care gap through greater access for all to clinical trials.
What does World Cancer Day personally mean to you?
World Cancer Day means sending warm thoughts to all the people in my life touched by cancer and setting new intentions for having a positive impact on cancer research in the coming year.
This year, the official campaign theme is “Close the Care Gap.” Could you explain the importance of clinical trials as best possible care?
I believe clinical research is the best option for cancer patients because they receive a high standard of care while at the same time benefitting from a potentially life-saving discovery. All too often, access to trials has been centralized around major cancer centers located in urban areas. One way we can close the gap is by reaching out to community care settings and leveraging technology, to offer clinical research access to patients beyond urban localities.
Why are oncology trials such a major part of Teckro’s portfolio?
Oncology trials often require staff to consult protocols and study documents more frequently to clarify narrow eligibility criteria, unfamiliar procedures, companion diagnostics, patient response to therapy and many other vital pieces of information. Teckro enables digital documents and a direct line to study teams at the point of care, helping to ensure compliance with the study protocol.
Your background in oncology means that you are uniquely placed to understand the complexity of oncology trials. How can technology help to solve this problem?
In addition to the challenges I just mentioned, oncology protocols are often amended. Teckro gives investigators and sites confidence that they are always looking at the current version of the protocol and other study documents. Importantly, sometimes the information they require is not in those documents so having communication tools – such as those on Teckro’s platform, means reaching out to the study team for clarification is quick and easy.
Physicians play a key role in helping to close the care gap. How can the industry help to encourage more physicians to participate in clinical research?
It is vital that the industry thinks beyond the usual academic sites and incorporates more community-based physicians into clinical research. Solutions like Teckro can be easily adopted by research-naïve sites, offering benefit with minimal training. This can help onboard these newer investigators and their staff quickly and easily.
What projects have you worked on at Teckro to raise awareness and remove barriers to accessibility, inclusion and diversity in clinical trials?
In addition to working with sponsors to engage more community-based research sites, we have also recently become a global impact partner of SCRS and have been spreading the word about the Diversity Self-Assessment tool, a validated instrument to aid sites in understanding how well they are doing against a number of diversity metrics. We also hosted a podcast with Van Johnson, VP of Business Development at Benchmark Research, who helped us to understand the need for a multi-faceted approach to diversity. We are taking the advice he provided regarding race - to engage underrepresented populations in dialogue about better representation in clinical trials. We’ll be sharing those learnings in coming months, so stay tuned!
What are you excited about for the future of oncology trials?
The thing that excites me the most is the accelerated pace of clinical research. A member of my family was going through cancer treatment this year and as her doctor was describing the course of treatment he explained “this is the plan for now, but it can all change in the coming days and weeks as we discover new things about your cancer.” Our ability to quickly move discoveries from bench to clinic is truly exciting.
Life Sciences Strategy LeaderGuest
Malia is a senior business strategist with a passion for accelerating new ideas, technologies and innovations within the biopharma industry. In a career spanning over 20 years, Malia has led organizations and spearheaded successful projects from R&D, launch planning and market access through post-market growth strategy, execution and analysis.