7 Reasons Why Community-Based Sites are Key to The Future of Research

Community sites bring powerful access to more patients and more diverse populations. They have many unique advantages that make them key to the future of research. We believe in the power of community sites for these 7 reasons:

Laurel Uballez
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Today, many sponsors return to working with the same major clinical research sites over and over. They trust them. Their results are proven. They have a relationship and a history together that makes partnership easier and less risky. The problem with this cycle is that these primary sites selected for trials today – major academic research centers and hospital systems – limit research due to the many barriers they create for patient access.

[There is an] impression that patients themselves are the main barrier to trial participation, when, in fact, many structural and clinical barriers get in the way long before patients are offered the option of a trial.” – Joseph Unger, PhD, health services researcher and biostatistician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (2019).*

While sponsors return to the same sites with the same barriers, they’re missing out on access to hundreds of thousands of other patients in communities around the world. And those patients are missing out on access to potentially life-saving treatments. This is the pivotal point at which Inato stands. Community sites bring powerful access to more patients and more diverse populations. They have many unique advantages that make them key to the future of research.

This is why Inato is on a mission to empower community sites.

“Every day we’re working on getting community sites, who were missing out on many opportunities to participate in clinical trials, connected to the right trials – we’re getting them a seat at the table. They’re getting selected and their patients now have access to these trials.” – Liz Beatty, Inato Co-Founder

We believe in the power of community sites for these 7 reasons:

1. Access to Diverse and Underrepresented Patient Populations

Community sites are already embedded within communities where all types of diverse patient populations exist today, many already connected with, accommodating, and serving these patients. They’ve already established deeply rooted relationships and trust – something invaluable for trial success.

“I think [diversity] is very regional and very specific. This is where you have to think about what works in different areas and for different people – and what support people need from different socioeconomic and cultural perspectives to reduce barriers of entry. It’s quite complex, which is why building on the relationships that already exist will likely be our best path forward rather than trying to start something from scratch.” – Liz Beatty, Inato Co-Founder

2. Diverse Staff

In diverse areas, site staff that represents diverse people within their community have a strong understanding of patient backgrounds and cultures and are able to speak the same languages. They are able to more effectively communicate with and build stronger, more trusted relationships with diverse patients and their families.

3. Familiarity with Local Patients & The Community

Physician and staff familiarity with their patients and communities allows them to anticipate participation barriers. They can more easily reduce or eliminate these barriers by advising on early protocols with partners like Inato, or simply getting creative to accommodate patient needs.

Familiarity with, ties to, and ongoing engagement with their local community also allows sites to utilize more channels and trusted relationships to identify and recruit more patients for enrollment.

4. Motivation & Commitment

Because of the close relationships community-based researchers hold with their communities and their patients, they tend to be more highly motivated to help their patients and the underrepresented populations in their communities get access to treatment options and trials. This kind of motivation and patient-centered commitment to care tends to result in reduced barriers for patients and more successful trials.

💡One community cancer center in the Inato network shared how they fundraise to help cover patients’ Standard of Care costs along with providing things like rent and utility assistance, Christmas presents, thanksgiving dinner, and more.

5. Proximity & Convenience

Community sites are just that – locally nestled within the community. This means they eliminate travel and convenience barriers typically present for patients commuting to major-academic-center-based trials. Barriers such as time and cost for transportation and secondary housing or hotels are obsolete when care is provided within a close proximity to work and home.

“Many patients cannot travel to where the trials are available [today] because of the constraints like taking time off work, family constraints, and childcare” (2019). – Joseph Unger, PhD*

6. Agility & Flexibility

Community sites tend to have reduced organizational limitations and “red tape” with smaller, more independent teams. This makes them more agile and enables them to more flexibly accommodate patients, reducing barriers.

💡One site from the Inato network shared how they were able to reduce barriers for patients without driver’s licenses by scheduling and covering costs for transportation to study appointments.

7. Patient Trust & Retention

Because of many of these factors – strong relationships, trust, convenience – community sites are more likely to retain more patients for the duration of each study. Patients with trust in their care team are less fearful of trials and more tolerant of invasive or cumbersome trial demands.

“We can do much better as an industry by leveraging the community. Understanding where relationships and trust already exist and really championing those opportunities to have more inclusive clinical trials in the future.” – Liz Beatty, Inato Co-Founder

This is why we’re bringing community sites access to global trials in ways that they’ve never had before. We’re giving them the “boost” they need to be seen, to build sponsor confidence through trusted verification, and to get selected for trials.

Learn more about Inato and our mission to bring more clinical trial access to more patients at Inato.com.

Are you a community site? Sign up for Inato today (it’s entirely free) to start viewing trials immediately.

*(2019, April 1). Study Investigates Reasons Why People Do Not Enroll in Clinical Trials. Relias Media.

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