CLIC Un-Meeting: Exploring the Inclusion of Community Hospitals in Clinical Research

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Zoom screenshot of Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, a principal investigator at the Georgia CTSA, giving a 4x4 presentation at the Un-Meeting.

Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, a principal investigator at the Georgia CTSA, gives a 4x4 presentation at the Un-Meeting.

 

Researchers across the country gathered virtually last month to discuss outreach to community hospitals for recruitment and enrollment into clinical trials at the CLIC-hosted Un-Meeting “Exploring the Inclusion of Community Hospitals in Clinical Research.” The topic, chosen by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), was driven by the disconnect between high COVID patient numbers and a low number of people who enrolled in clinical trials during the pandemic. 

The meeting kicked off with an introduction from Dr. Michael Kurilla, the director of the Division of Clinical Innovation at NCATS. 

“Community hospitals, especially in suburban and rural areas, provide most of the care to most Americans,” he said. “They also offer diversity, both in terms of patients as well as the spectrum of medical conditions, as well as a diversity of health care settings.”

Finding ways to expand the network of hospitals that can participate in large, multicenter clinical trials is especially important during a pandemic, he said, but even beyond that, engaging patients and communities is critical to the success of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program. The Un-Meeting aimed to discuss innovative strategies to create academic-community partnerships and identify activities that can be employed on an everyday basis that will benefit both. 

Kurilla spoke briefly about the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV)-1 trial as an example, which is a CTSA and NIH public-private partnership promoting COVID interventions. Thirty of 76 ACTIV-1 trial sites in the United States are non-academic institutions or community hospitals. While this means that the study population is more diverse, Kurilla said challenges include limited staff and infrastructure to support large phase 3 trials. 

Following introductions, Dr. Martin Zand, CLIC’s co-director, explained the “Un-Meeting un-rules.” CLIC Un-Meetings are designed to be collaborative, less structured and more participant-driven than traditional conferences. Attendees are encouraged to make connections across disciplines and form partnerships to address the Un-Meeting topic. 

Un-Meetings also include brief 4x4 presentations (four slides in for minutes). May’s presentation topics varied from “Enhancing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Research at Community Hospitals” to “Aligning Incentives for Clinical Research at the Point of Care.” Attendees then voted on breakout session topics and divided into the following rooms for discussion:

  • Building Partnerships & Network Facilitation
  • Providing Resources
  • Aligning Incentives & Increasing Engagement
  • Data Sharing Barriers 

Meeting materials, including breakout room summaries, are posted on the CLIC website, which can be accessed here (login required). Watch the full  Un-Meeting here

CLIC will be scheduling a "next steps" Un-Meeting for the fall of 2021 to continue the conversation. If you are interested in speaking, please contact the Un-Meetings team here: unmeetings@clic-ctsa.orgWe are especially looking for speakers and attendees from community hospitals. Please pass this information along to anyone who might be interested.