It’s the memory of his late father and the hard battle against terminal lymphoma that fuels Reggie Swift’s passion for promoting greater diversity in clinical trials and health care.
“My personal motivation is my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, and he eventually passed away,” Swift, PhD, Founder/CEO, Rubix LS, told attendees of the American Telemedicine Association’s Decentralized Clinical Trial Special Interest Group webinar September 21, part of its “Telehealth Awareness Week” effort to raise awareness about how telehealth can promote vital care delivery to wider and more diverse populations.
Recalling his father’s medical journey, Swift told attendees, “At the time the Veterans Administration was running related trials, but he wasn’t eligible or notified,” he said. “it’s been almost fifteen years since he passed, it’s that memory I still hold, thinking about all the other fathers who don’t have access and less than desired economic means,” he said.
“We can help design specific types of methodologies and tools so we can enable people from remote areas to have the same access as those in big cities,” Swift said. For example, while many underserved patients might have access to a computer or smartphone, they don’t always have the means of transportation to reach clinical trial sites.
Time is also a rare commodity for many in the underserved population; often, they are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. They aren’t likely to participate in a clinical trial demanding wide swaths of their time, especially the time required merely to travel back and forth to a physical site, Swift said. “Time is a resource they simply don’t have enough of,” he said.
Calling on industry to embrace new “strategies and methods to reach out to underserved populations,” Swift extoled the virtues of DCT as one way to help promote participation in clinical trials by minority patients. “We can design trials to come closer to the patient,” he said.
He also called on industry to leverage DCT to adapt trials to a patient’s schedule, rather than the other way around. Trials and healthcare delivery need to be more proactive and do a better job of weaving themselves into the lives of patients, Swift said.
“The passion fuels my mission,” Swift said. “I believe we’ve impacted nearly one million patients [via Rubix] and we are making a difference,” he added. “We’re here to make sure as we expand and adapt to digital health, we use telehealth to bring benefits to everyone.”
Clinical trial practitioners must also improve their listening skills and “cultural competency” to better understand and connect with underserved patient populations, Swift suggested. Help patients better understand the process of the trial, the treatment and care they will receive, and how the trial can benefit them and others, he added.
“You want to make patients comfortable in volunteering information” about their health. “We will be able to capture information that way we otherwise wouldn’t have,” thereby enriching the care and the efficacy of the clinical trial, he added. “It will also begin to build a bridge of trust” between patients and providers, he noted.
Other speakers included Tufia C. Haddad, MD, Chair of Practice Innovation and Platform, Mayo Clinic, Giles Lunzenfichter, CEO, Medisante Group AG, and Warren Smedley, Vice President, the Kinetix Group.
To view an archive of the webinar, go to this link