How clinical research adds value to physician-owned practices | Dale Owen

By partnering with an integrated research organization, practices can maintain quality care while providing access to groundbreaking therapies.

With all the stresses of healthcare today, you might wonder why a physician-owned medical practice would choose to implement clinical research, seemingly adding more to our already heavy workload.

Over the last decade, practices like mine have faced mounting pressure thanks to declining reimbursements, the increasing burden of quality reporting, and a national shortage of nurses and physicians.

As physician groups across the nation strive to meet these challenges, partnering with an Integrated Research Organization (IRO) to embed clinical research at the point of care is proving to be a strong strategy in the push towards Quadruple Aim.

Measured patient satisfaction

In the past, physician groups may have dismissed clinical research, worried that patients may not receive the same level of personalized treatment or be lost to another healthcare organization.

However, by partnering with an Integrated Research Organization like we did with Javara, clinical research is seamlessly imbedded into clinical care, so providers can maintain quality care while providing access to groundbreaking therapies.

“Being able to provide patients with the cutting-edge technologies involved with research is pretty amazing,” said Dr. Christina Kennelly, director of research at Tryon Medical Partners. “With things like hypertension, gout, COPD or asthma, we get to try new therapies with patients when the old generic medications or current medications on the market are not meeting their medical, therapeutic needs.”

In my past experience at other organizations, clinical research felt like it was being driven from the standpoint of what was best for the pharmaceutical companies. This time, I wanted to make sure research was being utilized primarily for the patients’ benefit.

We found that by integrating research in partnership with an IRO, we can tackle the problems our patients face more effectively. Data also shows that integrating clinical research into the overall continuum of care has many benefits for patients.

A 2015 study on the effects of Clinical Research As A Care Option found that 100% of patient participants felt clinical research helped reduce their overall spending on healthcare, improved their involvement in their health and significantly improved their quality of care.

Happy providers, happy patients

It’s no secret that better patient outcomes can best be achieved in an environment that fosters physician engagement and satisfaction.

By integrating clinical research within the practice, physicians can realize the power of lifelong learning, stay on the cutting edge of what is new in healthcare, and potentially further develop their careers. Our physicians have also reported a deep sense of pride in being able to provide patients with innovative treatment options.

Partnering with an IRO for clinical research also allows physicians to select which trials they would like to participate in, ebbing and flowing depending on their availability and desired therapeutic areas. This autonomy allows physicians to select trials they feel will best benefit the patients they currently treat.

“Physicians are able to participate as much or as little as they want,” said Dr. Kennelly. “You can learn about new vaccine trials or medications and see that work in real time.”

Physicians also rave about the additional trial staff and infrastructure provided by the IRO.

“The amount of support the sub-investigators and I get, the amount of time Javara spends to help ensure the trial gets stood up, it’s pretty incredible,” said Dr. Kennelly. “To go from winning a trial to having all the paperwork, the contract and everything set up 30 days later to begin enrolling patients is wonderful.”

Good for the patient and pocket

Beyond patients, physician-owned practices are responsible for the well-being of the business.

While it’s never a top priority, generating revenue to maintain the business is essential. Clinical research provides opportunities and shared savings on the Medicare side, reducing spending while improving quality metrics.

In instances where physician-owned groups partner with an IRO for research, the IRO assumes much of the financial risk by providing infrastructure, including compliance, so physicians can focus on enhancing patient care and not worry about the bottom line. With the increased credibility as a research organization, it’s easy to see why we chose to engage in clinical research.

While implementing clinical research into a physician-owned medical practice has many short and long-term benefits, the greatest asset by far is the potential contribution to medical advancements.

With more than 362,523 clinical trials in 2020, a 261% increase from a decade ago, more patients than ever are needed for clinical trials. As physician-owned groups, we have a remarkable opportunity to build upon our contributions to healthcare through clinical reseach and help shape the future of medicine.

Dr. Dale Owen serves as the leader and chief executive officer of Tryon Medical Partners, the Charlotte region’s largest independent medical practice.