Nicki Norris, CEO
Clinical research has always experienced challenges in regards to patient recruitment and retention, whether a trial is conducted in one country or many. These challenges often stem from the burdens clinical trials place on the patient. These include everything from frequent visits to the investigator site which may require extensive travel, to the coordination and cost involved in adapting one’s everyday life to simply participate. Symphony Clinical Research has approached these challenges head-on, bringing clinical care and a human connection directly to the patient in a setting that is convenient and comfortable for them.
Symphony is at the forefront of quality, specialized in-home and alternate-site clinical services. Symphony’s services are frequently used by patients who have difficulty traveling. Nicki Norris, CEO, Symphony Clinical Research, explains, “While our services can be used in all phases and therapeutic areas of clinical trials, we specialize in providing homecare for patient populations that have trouble traveling due to disease state, age, or other priorities and responsibilities.” Examples include Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, or those with other neurological or musculoskeletal disorders; patients with rare diseases who must travel across the globe to see specialized physicians; pediatric and adolescent patients who have school and whose parents/caregivers have other commitments. There are so many types of patients that benefit from an in-home and alternate site clinical service offering.
As a pioneer in alternate-site services, Symphony provides customers with unparalleled service, integrating clinical trial expertise with project management, in-home care, and nursing to bring the site visit to patients wherever they live, study, work, or vacation. “By ‘changing the place’ of the clinical trial to the patient’s home, office, or destination, Symphony is able to successfully support sponsors in ‘changing the pace’ of their trial by improving enrollment and retention,” states Nicki. Quality and consistency throughout the process is crucial. “We understand that if Symphony misses a patient visit, our customers do not get the data they critically need and the patients don’t get the care they desperately deserve.”
Symphony Clinical Research, together with its Symphony Global AllianceSM network of provider companies, works with every customer to identify the most suitable in-home service approach for each study. A typical study may consist of a combination of on-site appointments with the doctor, home visits by the Symphony nurse, data captured from an electronic monitor/device, and even remote visits. Norris further explains how Symphony fits into the picture, “We find that even mHealth savvy sponsor companies ultimately need some sort of hands-on healthcare for their patients. It may be for blood draws, study drug administration, or purely for the essential human interaction clinical trials necessitate.”
In fact, while the total number of clinical trials being conducted has expanded over the past few years, so has the number of trials that include in-home services. Study sponsors are now managing projects across the globe, sometimes in as many as 20 or more countries, and they continually want to make this service available to patients in every country. Symphony is able to coordinate these in-home study visits, while maintaining consistency across multiple geographies and complying with local healthcare regulations. They have locally-licensed nurses in each location, who speak the local language, and understand the cultural requirements of healthcare in the region.
One of the many benefits of Symphony’s services is the opportunity for accelerated patient recruitment. This advantage was fully recognized by one particular Symphony customer conducting a large study. In this instance, the enrollment projection for patient recruitment when using traditional sites was 12 months, but the actual enrollment when using Symphony’s homecare services was three months. This saved the customer nine months in expected enrollment time, so even though the study start was delayed by 11 months, they still completed enrollment ahead of schedule. They had 100 percent of the patients enrolled within three months. This level of accelerated patient recruitment, along with the time and cost savings it produces, is beneficial for any study sponsor.
Symphony believes strongly in operating like the partner they would like to have. This means accepting a customer’s goals as their own. With a fantastic and committed group of employees, their efforts will result in an exciting new electronic offering later this year that will help bring their customers timelier access to higher quality data. In addition, the future holds continued innovation for Symphony’s people, processes, and systems. As Norris explains, “We will constantly strive to learn and continually perfect our systems and processes. We pride ourselves on being accountable, proactive, resourceful, and experienced, and we always look to do things better tomorrow than we do today.”